View Handball on ESPN3 & the WatchESPN App, by WPHLiveTV Get Started on Our YouTube Channel
Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/6/18
Day three: Sunday
The final day of the 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight season provided the final opportunity for Race 4 Eight stars to claim R48 crystal and earn ranking points. The R48, WR48, and SR48 crowned champions on Sunday, while Playoff matches would decide year-end ranking positions.
R48 Final: Carroll vs. Lenning
Killian Carroll and Sean Lenning met for the fifth time this season and for the third time in a final, with Carroll winning three of the four R48 7 matchups. Lenning was the only player to defeat Carroll this season, rallying from a 0-9 third game deficit to stun the R48 #1 in Las Vegas. Carroll is the only player to have won two Player’s Championships in the history of the R48 and would be seeking his third in Sunday’s final, while Lenning would be seeking his second Player’s Championship.
Carroll and Lenning played the game at its highest level from the start, with both superstars littering the stats sheet with bottom-board kills and ace serves. Carroll appeared to take control, taking a 12-8 first-game lead. Lenning earned a side out and scored the next six points with a barrage of fly kills and left-handed “spoiler” kills to serve for the first game at 14-12. Lenning hit his first serve short and second serve long to hand Carroll the serve with a shocking double fault. Carroll took advantage of the opening, forcing overtime and eventually winning the game on his fifth attempt.
Lenning regrouped in game two, dominating Carroll with a wide variety of two-handed offense, forcing a third game in dominant fashion. Lenning continued his charge in game three, building a 5-0 lead and seemingly on his way to his second Player’s Championship. “At that point I used a code word to reset my thought process,” Carroll would later say. After a 32-shot rally at 0-5, Carroll appeared to be reenergized, as Lenning appeared to show signs of exhaustion. Carroll caught Lenning at five and scored six more points before Lenning could stop the streak at 11. Carroll climbed to 14-7 and called a 30-second timeout to focus on what he hoped would be the final rally. “Against Sean no lead is safe, not even 14-1, so I wanted to end it right there,” stated Carroll. Carroll ended the match and the best individual season in the history of the R48 Men’s Pro with a diving re kill into the right corner, one of the best shots in the history of the tour.
“It means so much to me to win three Player’s Championships,” stated Carroll. “I’m still chasing people but it’s nice to pass Paul (Brady) in this area.”
Carroll ended his monumental season with six wins in seven starts, making him the most prolific single-season winner in R48 Men’s Pro history.
Vic Perez capped an impressive season by dominating his LAAC teammate Mando Ortiz to clinch fifth, while Diarmaid Nash set aside his disappointment from his round of 16 loss by overcoming Erik Torres in the 9th place final.
5th place final: Perez def Ortiz 25-6
9th place final: Nash def Torres 25-6
R48 Salt Lake City Aces Finishes
3rd: L. Cordova/D. Cordova
13th: Garcia Jr./Montijo/Iglesias/Collado
W48 Final: Casey vs. Tuohey
Catriona Casey met Aimee Tuohey for the first time in a WR48 final, with Casey seeking her 15th WR48 title in 17 WR48 events and Tuohey seeking her first WR48 title in her first final. Casey had never lost in the Player’s Championship, having won the first four WR48 Player’s Championships dating back to 2014.
Tuohey impressed the large gallery in game one, executing a number of kills and applying pressure that forced several Casey errors. Casey was more precise in game two, never allowing Tuohey to setup in the front court and running away with the match.
With the victory, Casey continued her WR48 domination by adding her fifth WR48 Player’s Championship to her unparalleled resume. “I love the tour and I love traveling to all of the different cities,” stated Casey. “I especially love Salt Lake, where the fans and tournament organizers are so hospitable.”
Final: Casey def Tuohey 15-9, 15-0
Courtney Peixoto de Melo overcame frequent sparring partner Tracy Davis in a close one-game match for 3rd, while Suz Koehler notched her first victory against Ashley Moler for 5th. University of Texas teammates Kristen Hughes and Scarlett Smith faced off for 7th, with Hughes winning the battle of Austin.
3rd place final: Peixoto de Melo def Davis 25-22
5th place final: Koehler def Moler 25-20
7th place final: Hughes def Smith 25-20
W48 Salt Lake City Aces Finishes
3rd: Peixoto de Melo
6th: Dr. Moler
SR48 Final: Fink vs. Chavez
David Fink and Marcos Chavez met for the third time in a SR48 final this season, with Fink winning the first two encounters in Las Vegas and Houston. Chavez had never lost a SR48 match in Salt Lake City and was aiming to defend his SR48 Player’s Championship, while Fink was trying to win his first SR48 Player’s Championship. Fink led throughout much of the first half, but very little separated the two, as the lead was never more than three points. Fink took a 15-13 lead at the half and stretched the lead to 17-13. Chavez tied the score at 18, changing his serve and catching fire on his patented back wall kill. Fink regained control, taking a 22-18 lead with a right-handed back wall flat kill, but Chavez was not about to let his Player’s Championship defense end. Fink missed several opportunities to score the 23rd point and Chavez rallied, switching to a power serve and running out the match with seven consecutive points.
Final: Chavez def Fink 25-22
Dr. Dan Zimet continued his impressive SR48 season, defeating George Garcia Jr. for the second time this season. “It was such a tough match,” stated Dr. Z. “George is playing so well and it was great to finish the season on a high note.”
S48 Salt Lake City Aces Finishes
4th: Garcia, Jr.
Thank you to the outstanding Ace Disposal crew for another outstanding Aces event. Thank you to Matt and Lon Stalsberg, Ruben Garza, Gary Scogin, and all of the volunteers who made the Aces Player’s Championship the “Player’s Stop” for the seventh consecutive year. Thank you to the WPH staff, WPH film crew, and all of the Race 4 Eight pros for their efforts at the Aces Player’s Championship and throughout the tremendous 2017-2018 Race 4 Eight season.
“I just want to thank the WPH for what they’ve done for the greatest sport in the world,” stated SR48 star Kevin Price. “The sport has never been in a better place because of the work the WPH is doing and there has never been this level of pro handball. These pros are absolutely amazing athletes and it’s great for us to be able to watch them and for our younger players to be inspired by them.”
To follow all of the draws and results from the R48 ’18 Salt Lake City Aces Players Championship, go here
To watch ESPN3 broadcast replays from Salt Lake City, go here
WPH Senior Writer
Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/5/18
Day two: Saturday
Saturday in Salt Lake City featured the R48 quarterfinals and semifinals, the WR48 semifinals, and the SR48 semifinals. The action-packed Saturday produced sensational handball action at the Sports Mall, as hundreds of players and fans cheered on the pros court side, with thousands more watching on ESPN3.
Killian Carroll entered his quarterfinal match against Vic Perez with a 2-1 head-to-head edge and seeking his seventh R48 semifinal of the season. Carroll started slowly but found his groove midway through the first game, lighting up the stats sheet with kills and winning passes to advance to the semifinals.
Daniel Cordova and David Fink met for the fifth time in their R48 careers, with the two Elite 8 stars splitting their first four encounters. The two traded the lead in the early part of game one until Cordova took a 7-all tie to a 14-7 lead. Fink scored five in a row to climb back into the game but Cordova was able to close out the game, 15-12. Cordova took charge in game two, taking control with a power hop serve and incredible speed to cruise to the semifinals.
Mando Ortiz had not looked like Mando Ortiz since making the final in Montana in January, but appeared to have found his game in his opening round win against Erik Torres. Luis Cordova entered the quarterfinal match with Ortiz in the midst of his best and most consistent R48 season, having advanced to seven quarterfinals and one semifinal. Lucho took a 5-0 lead in game one with just nine swings. Ortiz would rally, launching his offensive attack from everywhere on the court to pull within striking distance at 12-11. Lucho maintained his composure, scoring three of the final four points of the game to take a one-game lead. “There wasn’t much that separated us in the first game, Mando made a few errors and that was the difference,” stated Lucho. Lucho took a 9-3 lead in game two before Mando caught fire again, tying the game at 10 with highlight reel kills. Lucho withstood the Ortiz onslaught, taking a 14-12 lead and serving for the match. Ortiz tied the game at 14, forcing overtime. Both players served three times at 14-all, with Lucho finally scoring the final two points of the game to take the match. “I was definitely thinking about the match in 2015 when I had Mando 14-9 in the second game and he came back to win,” stated Lucho.
Sean Lenning owned a 4-1 head-to-head advantage against his junior and pro rival Emmett Peixoto, but Peixoto had been playing some of the best ball on tour in the past two months, advancing to consecutive semifinals in the last two R48 stops. Lenning never allowed Peixoto into the match, blasting serves that appeared to take off as they hit the floor and ending rallies with just one or two swings. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone serve the ball that hard,” stated Killian Carroll. Lenning led 7-0 and closed out the first game 15-6 and was even more dominant in game two, holding The Rock to just one point. “I’m always inspired to play Emmett and I was really enjoying being on the court today,” stated Lenning.
R48 Round of 8
Carroll def Perez 15-4, 15-7
Cordova def Fink 15-12, 15-4
Cordova def Ortiz 15-12, 16-14
Lenning def Peixoto 15-6, 15-1
Killian Carroll and Daniel Cordova met for the third time this season in the upper bracket semifinal, with Killian winning the two matchups in Tucson and New York. Carroll was his usual dominant self, taking Cordova completely out of his game, dictating the pace and commanding the court with a great serve and perfect shot selection. Carroll advanced to his seventh R48 final of the season and will play for a chance to win his sixth title of the season in tomorrow’s final. “In fairness I don’t think Daniel played his best today,” stated Carroll. “I had to keep pushing because even though I had a big lead, Daniel has such a great serve that he can catch up quick. I’m a bit burned out right now, so I’m looking forward to a little rest then getting back to training in June.”
Sean Lenning and Luis Cordova met in the bottom bracket semifinal, with Cordova aiming to repeat his finals appearance from last season and Lenning trying to repeat his Player’s Championship victory in Salt Lake City in 2015. Lenning picked up where he left off against Peixoto in game one against Cordova, using his serve to dominate. Cordova slowed the game down in game two, capitalizing on quickly fatiguing Lenning to work his way into the match. Cordova evened the match, setting up a race to 15 for a spot in the final. Clearly missing the zip on his serve and kills, Lenning dug deep into the well for energy and scoring opportunities. Cordova was also fatigued but continued to battle as well. The pair were tied at eight and 10, with the knowledgeable and appreciative Salt Lake galleries on the edge of their seats and awestruck at the heart and skills of two of the world’s best. “This is all about will and I love it,” stated WPH donor George Blocker from the gallery. Lenning hit two ace serves to take a 12-10 lead and found himself serving at 14-12 for the match. Lenning closed the show with an ace down the right to book his ticket to his third R48 final of the season. “I set my goal to reach every semifinal this season and I came close,” stated Lenning.
Carroll def D. Cordova 15-10, 15-1
Lenning def L. Cordova 15-4, 9-15, 15-12
Final: Carroll vs. Lenning
WR48 #1 Catriona Casey continued her run of WR48 dominance in the quarterfinals, ousting Aimee Fadden in two lopsided games, while Salt Lake City’s WR48 #2 seed Aimee Tuohey had little difficulty advancing to the semifinals against the University of Texas star Kristen Hughes.
Tracy Davis and Dr. Ashley Moler renewed their exciting rivalry that has spanned a decade in the second upper bracket semifinal. Trey Dey was in control throughout against Dr. Moler, never allowing the Tucson fist-shot artist into the match and winning in a two-game sweep.
WR48 Las Vegas ’18 finalist Courtney Peixoto de Melo met WR48 NYAC ’18 finalist Suz Koehler for the first time in a blockbuster matchup in the second bottom bracket quarterfinal. CPM was too strong for Koehler, outscoring the Missouri dynamo 30-6 in a one-sided route. “Courtney played nothing like she did in New York and was shooting the ball with both hands,” stated Emmett Peixoto.
WR48 Round of 8
Casey def Fadden 15-0, 15-1
Davis def Dr. Moler 15-9, 15-6
Peixoto de Melo def Koehler 15-4, 15-2
Tuohey def Hughes 15-1, 15-5
Catriona Casey played flawlessly against a determined Tracy Davis, who was playing at her highest level of the season. “Tracy had a great serve going and she really made me pay for any mistake,” stated Casey. Casey made only one error in the two game match, advancing to her 17th WR48 final in 17 WR48 events.
Aimee Tuohey and Courtney Peixoto de Melo split their two matches this season, with CPM winning in Las Vegas and Tuohey winning in New York. Tuohey was completely dominant in the rubber match, keeping CPM in the back court and shooting the ball with both hands when CPM gave openings. “There not much I can say, I mean Aimee just played great,” stated CPM.
Casey def Davis 15-3, 15-0
Tuohey def Peixoto de Melo 15-2, 15-6
Final: Casey vs. Tuohey
SR48 #1 David Fink and newly minted R48 pro George Garcia Jr. met for the first time since playing in the 15-and-under singles 26 years ago at the Nationals. Garcia started hot, killing the ball on the fly, off the back wall, and off the bounce to take a 7-1 lead. Garcia played with the lead throughout the first half, keeping the SR48 #1 on his heels en route to a 15-13 halftime lead. Fink finally caught Garcia at 18 but Garcia regained control, taking a 21-19 lead. “This was definitely gut-check time,” stated Fink. “The undefeated season, the SR48 year end #1, and the SR48 Player’s Championship was slipping away and I was feeling the pressure.” Fink took a 23-21, and with Garcia serving, Garcia hit a back wall kill that appeared to skip, in Fink’s eyes. After a lengthy review, the ball was ruled good, pulling Garcia within one. Fink earned a quick side out and scored the final two points of the match. “That was definitely the match of the tournament,” stated ESPN play-by-play announcer Dave Vincent. “I’ve never seen so many people watching a match, including more than 15 R48 pros glued to every shot.”
Defending SR48 Player’s Champion Marcos Chavez faced Dr. Dan Zimet in the semifinals for the third consecutive SR48 event, with the mid 40-something stars demonstrating that the mid-40’s are the new early 30’s. Chavez played with a ruthlessness against the 47-year old Dr., driving serves down the right wall, making acrobatic re kills, and seizing virtually all of his offensive opportunities. “I just couldn’t put enough pressure on Marcos with my serve returns, and when I served, I couldn’t put him under any pressure,” stated Dr. Z. Chavez advanced to his third SR48 final of the season and continued his quest to defend his SR48 Player’s Championship.
Fink def Garcia 25-22
Chavez def Zimet 25-12
Final: Fink vs. Chavez
To watch Sunday’s ESPN3 broadcast from Salt Lake City, starting at 9 am MST, go here
(Results, Brackets and Draws: https://goo.gl/djF9LS)
Saturday, May 4th (ESPN3 Broadcast Window 9am-7pm)
Men’s Quarters Killian Carroll def Vic Perez 15-12, 15-4
Men’s Quarters Daniel Cordova def David Fink 15-12, 15-4
Men’s Quarters Luis Cordova def Mando Ortiz 15-11, 16-14
Men’s Quarters Sean Lenning def Emmett Peixoto 15-6, 15-1
Women’s Semifinals Catriona Casey def Tracy Davis 15-3, 15-0
Women’s Semifinals Aimee Tuohey def Courtney Peixoto De Melo 15-2, 15-6
40+ Senior Semifinals David Fink def George Garcia 25-22
40+ Senior Semifinals Marcos Chavez def Dan Zimet 25-12
Men’s Semifinals Killian Carroll vs Daniel Cordova 15-10, 15-1
Men’s Semifinals Luis Cordova vs Sean Lenning 15-3, 9-15, 15-12
Sunday, May 4th (ESPN Broadcast Window 9:30am to 1:30pm)
9:30am Men’s 9th Place Final – Erik Torres vs Diarmaid Nash
10:15am Men’s 40+ Final- David Fink vs Marcos Chavez
11:00am Women’s Pro Final – Catriona Casey vs Aimee Tuohey
11:45am Men’s Pro Final – Sean Lenning vs Killian Carroll
Daily Updates from the ’18 R48 Salt Lake City Aces Player’s Championship
Salt Lake City, UT, WPH Press, 5/4/18
Day One: Friday
All of the R48, WR48, and SR48 were in action on Friday at the ’18 R48 Salt Lake City Aces Player’s Championship, with each of the Race 4 Eight stars aiming for the most coveted prize in professional handball: The Player’s Championship. Play kicked off on Friday morning with the Race 4 Eight qualifier, featuring eight R48 stars in the top 25 and WR48 #1 Catriona Casey. The R48 main draw kicked off on Friday afternoon, with the eight qualifiers joining the R48 Elite for a spot in the quarterfinals. The WR48 and SR48 also kicked off on Friday, playing down to the semifinals.
Friday’s qualifier featured the most lopsided qualifier finals of the season, as the top seven seeds cruised in lopsided matches. Shorty Ruiz became the first player to qualify in every event in a R48 season with his qualifier win against Pete Svennungsen. George Garcia, Jr. authored the lone upset in the qualifier final, qualifying for the first time in his R48 career by ousting the current Oregon State and Pacific Northwest Regional champion Dalton Beall.
Chavez def Gardea 25-2
Ruiz def Svennungsen
Iglesias def Torres 25-6
Nash def Townsend 25-8
Montijo def Cambell 25-5
Torres def Rosales 25-20
Collado def Casey 25-16
Garcia, Jr. def Beall 25-19
R48 Round of 16
R48 #1 Killian Carroll had little difficulty with first-time R48 qualifier George Garcia, Jr. in his opening round, overwhelming the SR48 star in two quick games.
R48 #2 Sean Lenning cruised in his opening round against the Olympic Club’s Loren Collado, while Mando Ortiz overcame a second game charge from the Olympic Club’s Erik Torres to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals.
NYAC ’18 finalist Daniel Cordova faced Irish #3 Diarmaid Nash for the second time this season, with Nash defeating Danos in two games in their first encounter in Montana in January. Cordova overpowered his Irish rival in game one, keeping the stylish left-hander off-balance with power hops and kills. Nash quickly changed the momentum in game two, finding a two-wall overhand lob serve to earn setups and level the match. Cordova regained control of the match in the third, taking a 3-0 lead and never trailing en route to a third game victory. “That was a great match to watch and referee,” stated Erik Torres. “Danos has a lot of power and Diarmaid has a great feel for the ball and it makes for a great matchup.”
Tucsonans David Fink and Abraham Montijo met for a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinals and Tucson bragging rights. Fink started quickly, building a 10-0 first-game lead and was never seriously threatened en route to a two-game sweep.
R48 #6 Luis Cordova and Jonathan Iglesias met for the second consecutive event, with Lucho winning an exciting three-game battle at the NYAC three weeks ago. Lucho would not need a tiebreaker this time, as he eliminated the Colorado star in two games.
R48 #7 Emmett Peixoto met seven-time R48 7 qualifier Shorty Ruiz for the first time in the Race 4 Eight. Peixoto played steady handball, keeping Ruiz in the back of the court en route to a first-game win. Peixoto continued to cruise in game two, leading 11-5 when Ruiz made his move. “I finally started to get my serve working and was able to score some points,” stated Ruiz. Ruiz was unable to put away a left-handed fly kill that would have tied the game at 12, giving Peixoto the serve. “The Rock” scored three of the last four points of the match to advance to his fourth consecutive R48 semifinal. “I was trying to hit the ball right at Shorty with hop but that wasn’t working, so I started hitting the ball down the walls and that worked better,” stated Peixoto. “Shorty has a great front court game and a really unique style and I’m really happy to advance.”
LAAC teammates Vic Perez and Marcos Chavez met for the third time this season and for the second consecutive event with a spot in the season-ending R48 Elite 8 on the line. The pair had split their previous matches this season in razor thin tiebreakers, but there would be nothing close about Friday’s match, as Perez dominated his mentor in two quick games. “I always love to play Marcos because you always know you have to bring your best,” stated Perez. “Marcos always wants to win, even in practice, so I just played as hard as I could.”
R48 Round of 16 Finals
Carroll def Garcia Jr.
Lenning def Collado 15-10, 15-7
Ortiz def Torres 15-2, 15-12
Cordova def Nash 15-4, 4-15, 15-9
Fink def Montijo 15-4, 15-6
Cordova def Iglesias
Peixoto def Ruiz 15-4, 15-12
Perez def Chavez 15-3, 15-3
R48 Round of 8 (Saturday)
Carroll vs. Perez
Cordova vs. Fink
Ortiz vs. L. Cordova
Lenning vs. Peixoto
WR48 (Saturday matchups)
Casey vs. Fadden
Tuohey vs. Hughes
Peixoto de Melo vs. Koehler
Davis vs. Dr. Moler
SR48 #1 David Fink defeated Tom Stone to advance to his third consecutive SR48 semifinal, while defending SR48 Player’s Champion and SR48 #2 Marcos Chavez was pushed by St. Louis’ Michael Benkelman.
George Garcia continued to play great ball after his qualifier win, defeating Jim Karner to advance to the semifinals. Dr. Dan Zimet advanced to his third SR48 semifinal of the season, playing high quality ball against Colorado’s Kevin Price. “I thought I was playing tomorrow so my cross-country flight landed just two hours before my match,” stated Dr. Z. I started cramping midway through the match but fortunately had built a big lead.
SR48 Round of 8
Fink def Stone 25-3
Chavez def Benkelman 25-14
Zimet def Price 25-14
Garcia def Karner 25-19
SR48 Semifinals (Saturday)
Fink vs. Garcia Jr.
Chavez vs. Zimet
To watch Saturday’s ESPN3 broadcast from Salt Lake City, starting at 9 am MST, go here
Supported videos include:
Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.