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Pittsburgh, PA, WPH Press, 12/13/17- The WPH and Pittsburgh Handball were excited to present the first Pittsburgh Ladder Holiday Cup singles on the second week of December at Amerifit, the home of the WPH RFC. Six Pittsburgh Ladder stars were joined by two wildcard entries to make a full quarterfinal draw. Pittsburgh Ladder stars have battled in weekly matches all year to gather ranking points and bragging rights and a spot in the RFC Cup starting lineup at the RFC 10 RFC Cup team competition pitting Team Pittsburgh against teams from New York, Canada, Cleveland, Arizona, California, and more. The WPH Pittsburgh Ladder Holiday featured three times the available Ladder ranking points than weekly Ladder play, meaning Pittsburgh’s Ladder elite would need to bring their best or tumble down the rankings.
Round of 8
Andrew “JCC” Joseph entered his match with Mathieu “Trash Talkin’” Pelletier as the slight underdog, seeded 5th and ranked 6th on the Ladder after a disastrous fall campaign that saw him injured and incur a catastrophic losing streak upon his return. “I visualized beating TTP in the opening round 25-6, but I outperformed by expectations,” snickered JCC. The 25-4, 15-minute beat-down continued a streak of four consecutive main draw matches in which TTP has failed to score more than five points.
Third-seeded Kirk “Big Game” Rys was overheard telling fans to not bother showing up to his early match against sixth-seeded Rodney Fink, because “it was only RFC.” BGR backed up his statementin the all-attorney first round, nearly serving RFC a bagel just days before the start of Hanukah.
Second-seeded Smokin’ Joe Delsardo arrived at Amerifit’s House of Pain not knowing who he would be facing, while his mystery wildcard, motorcycle riding, power-serving, C-town southpaw Carlos Vasquez had been breaking down film of the former Pitt starting receiver all week. “That really didn’t seem fair,” lamented SJ. “I was seeded second and had to play a first-round war.” SJ advanced in a nearly 45-minute battle.
Top-seeded New England Mike Semplice looked far from his best in disposing of former Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl Safety and second wildcard entrant Jaime Silva in his opening round. Silva was making his return to the squared circle following a ruptured Achilles, and the rust was evident, as NE Mike cruised to the semifinals
NE Mike def Super Bowl Silva (SBS) 25-12
JCC def TTP 25-4
BGR def RFC 25-1
SJ def Vazquez 25-12
JCC appeared to have a legitimate shot at the finals, as he faced an apathetic and unprepared NE Mike. NE Mike did not have his legs, conditioning, or shots, but still managed to overcome the fist-shot master in a battle of attrition. “NE Mike really had nothing but he gutted it out,” stated RFC.
Smokin’ Joe faced frequent secret lunchtime rival Big Game Rys in the bottom bracket semifinal and would need close to an hour to overcome the gritty juris doctor/MBA. “Big Game just always seems to find a way to make it ugly and push me to the limit and that’s what he did in the semis.”
NE Mike def JCC: 25-18
SJ def BGR 25-11
Final: Best of 5 to 15
The final was played in primetime, as top-seeded New England Mike and second-seeded Smokin Joe met after a five-day break for the Pittsburgh Ladder Holiday Cup title.
SJ started strong in pursuit of the year-end Ladder #2 ranking, winning game one of the best of five final, 15-12. “Joe was really playing well in game one,” stated NE Mike. “He was putting the ball down and hitting nice pass shots.”
New England Mike dominated games two and three, outscoring SJ 30-6 to take a two games to one lead. “It just didn’t really seem like Joe wanted to be in the court in the second and third games,” stated NE Mike.
New England Mike stood just four points from the title in game four as he continued to dominate, leading 11-4 and on the verge of closing out his south side rival. SJ stormed back, forcing a fifth game with a spirited rally. “The fourth game was the best game of the match,” stated New England Mike. “Joe switched to a 2-Wall z serve and was hitting hard shots down the walls,” stated NE Mike. “I couldn’t get off 13 and serving at 13-14, Joe flat killed my serve off the right side wall and won the game on his next serve.”
Much like New England Mike’s hero Tom Brady with 40 fourth quarter comebacks and five Super Bowls, New England Mike dominated the action in game five. “Joe just wasn’t really able to pressure me and he skipped at least seven shots in the fifth,” expressed New England Mike. “I’m really happy with the win and I’m ecstatic to receive the WPH Holiday Cup medal.”
Final: NE Mike def SJ 12-15, 15-1, 15-5, 13-15, 15-2
Big Game Rys hooked up with longtime rival JCC in the 3rd place final. More than 1,000 matches between Big Game and JCC made this rivalry a hard-hitting, intense affair, complete with arguments, hundreds of visits from the vulgar police, and hundreds of title changes between the two. BGR took a 24-16 lead in the one game to 25 3rd place final and seemed to be on the verge of a routine victory. “It looked like I was rolling and on my way to a relatively easy win,” stated Big Game. JCC roared back to cut the deficit to 22-24. “JCC just caught fire.” BGR finally closed out the match to finish the Pittsburgh Ladder Holiday Cup third and finish the 2017 Ladder season ranked #4.
“The win was special because of the unexpected attendance of JCC’s dad Will downtown (at the Rivers Club),” boasted Big Game. “JCC is still not up to form yet but it’s encouraging that he’s starting to play more. Expect to see the normal and stronger version of JCC soon.”
3rd Place Final: BGR def JCC 25-22
5th Place Playoffs
Fueled by his embarrassing 25-4 main draw defeat, Trash Talkin’ Pelletier took his frustrations out on Super Bowl Silva in the 5th place playoffs, crushing his archrival in a one-sided thrashing. C-Town’s Vasquez ousted RFC in the other 5th place semifinal.
In their third match of the morning, Vazquez was too strong for TTP, clinching 5th as an unseeded wildcard. “I was dominating in The Will, up 11-2, when we had to move to the RFC court,” lamented TTP. “I couldn’t see the ball in the RFC court.”
5th Place Semis
TTP def SBS 25-4
Vazquez def RFC 25-13
Vazquez def TTP 25-13
Pittsburgh Ladder Holiday Cup Finishes
Champion: New England Mike
Finalist: Smokin Joe
5th: *Wildcard Carlos Vasquez
8th: *Wildcard SBS
Pittsburgh Ladder End of 2017 Rankings
1st: David “The Captain” Fink
2nd: New England Mike Semplice
3rd: Smokin’ Joe Delsardo
4th: Big Game Kirk Rys
5th: JCC Andrew Joseph
6th: Mathieu Trsh-Talkin’ Pelletier
7th: RFC Rodney Fink
Thank you to Mike Semplice for hosting the Pittsburgh Ladder Holiday Cup and thank you to all of the Pittsburgh Ladder stars for a great 2017.
WPH Ladder Senior Writer
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