Las Vegas, NV, WPH Press, 9/24/17
Day 4: Sunday
The final day of the 2017 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships would crown Big Ball singles winners in the men’s and women’s pro brackets, as well as the men’s and Women’s X-Fest champion for best all-around handball superstar. The X-Fest awarded points for each player’s finishes in their best three of four Small Ball and Big Ball singles brackets. The Men’s and Women’s WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup was also on the line on Sunday, meaning the WPH Outdoor 6 season all came down to Sunday’s finals.
3WallBall Big Ball Singles
Samzon Hernandez was seeking his first 3WallBall Big Ball singles title in Las Vegas since 2013, while Timbo Gonzalez was seeking his first 3WallBall Big Ball singles title at the 3WallBall Outdoor World Championship. Hernandez and Gonzalez were also battling for the WPH Outdoor Player’s Cup, recognizing the top player on the WPH Outdoor season.
Gonzalez defeated Hernandez on the 3WallBall courts at the 2017 Vegas Lte in May and was determined to make it consecutive victories against his greatest 3-Wall rival. Hernandez started well in the first game, building a 5-1 lead with crisp kills and passes. Gonzalez rattled off six consecutive points to take the momentum and the lead, only to be caught by Hernandez at nine. Hernandez served for the first game at 11-10, earned his favorite right-hand setup into the left corner but came up just short. “Everything just looked off about that swing,” stated WPH guest commentator David Chapman. “Samzon looked like he rushed the shot and his swing was not smooth.” Gonzalez took advantage of Hernandez’s error, winning the next point to put game one in the bank.
Game two was close throughout, with neither superstar able to separate himself by more than two points. Gonzalez called both of his timeouts by the halfway point in the game and would need to dig deep in his 18thmatch of the event. Hernandez earned another setup with his right hand at 10-all, but just as in game one, was unable to convert. Gonzalez closed out the match on the next point to clinch his first 3WallBall Big Ball singles title and X-Fest title. “It just feels great,” stated Gonzalez. “I’ve put a lot into my training and preparation for this event and to win it is a great feeling.”
Final: Gonzalez def Hernandez 12-11, 12-10
1WallBall Small Ball Singles
Jurell Bastidas dominated the upper half of the 1WallBall Small Ball singles bracket, exacting revenge on Timbo Gonzalez from an a singles loss earlier in the summer. David Chapman added to his unparalleled resume by eliminating the current national 1-Wall finalist Billy O’Donnell, current 1-Wall world champion Sean Lenning, and defending 1WallBall Small Ball singles champion Gio Vasquez en route to the final in the bottom half.
Bastidas started slowly in the final, unable to locate his “out the door” serve to the left. Chapman, however, was unable to take advantage, making several return-of-serve errors and failing to push Bastidas out of the front court. Bastidas methodically built a lead, using an overhand drive game and paddle and whip kills. Bastidas led 15-4 at halftime and appeared to relax with the sizeable lead. Bastidas dominated the action in the second half, finding his devastating serve and not allowing Chapman into the rallies. “He was just too tough and I felt like I couldn’t do anything,” stated Chapman.
Final: J. Bastidas def Chapman 25-8
1WallBall Big Ball Singles
Timbo Gonzalez ousted Samzon Hernandez en route to the 1WallBall Big Ball singles final, while Hector Velez continued his sensational 2017 campaign in dominating Gio Vasquez to advance to his first 1WallBall Big Ball singles final in Las Vegas.
Gonzalez was cruising in the 1WallBall singles final, appearing to be more interested to playing to the crowd with backhanded shots than the scoreboard. Despite his showboating, Gonzalez led 22-9 and called a timeout. “This match shouldn’t be this close,” Gonzalez barked at fans sitting courtside. “Vegas had the over/under at 4.5 points,” stated a frustrated Gonzalez, upset about a post-match handshake with Velez from an earlier doubles match.
Velez was not about to concede the title to Gonzalez, as he crawled his way back into the match. “I might not be fast in a race but I can really read shots,” stated Velez after the match. “I study Timbo’s game and I know where his shots are going.”
Serving at 24-15, Gonzalez attempted a spike kill with his left hand that missed by inches, keeping Velez’s comeback alive. Velez dominated the next four rallies to cut the deficit to five. “This is the best I’ve every seen Pito (Velez) play,” stated one of Velez’s supporters in the front row. On cue, Velez dumped his next shot in the ground and lost the next rally to come up just short.
Final: Gonzalez def Velez 25-19
Men’s X-Fest Final Standings
First: Timbo Gonzalez
Tied Second: Samzon Hernandez/Shorty Ruiz/David Chapman
Fifth: Sean Lenning
Sixth: Jurell Bastidas
Seventh: Tywan Cook
Tied Eighth: Vic Perez/Mando Ortiz
“Winning the X-Fest has been my goal since it was announced,” stated Gonzalez. “I love the X-Fest because it demands that players test themselves in all the codes and identifies the best all-around player. I’m proud to have won it in consecutive years.”
Timbo Gonzalez teamed with Allan Sanchez and cruised to the final in the upper bracket, while Hector Velez and Carlos Pena survived several close match en route to the final in the bottom bracket.
After being two points from elimination in the semifinals, Team Velez/Pena raced to a 14-0 lead in the final against Team Timbo/Sanchez. Timbo appeared to flip the switch, leading his team to a 15-point streak to take the lead. Trailing 15-16 just two rallies after halftime, Team Velez/Pena scored the final 10 points of the match.
Final: Team Velez/Pena def Team Gonzalez/Sanchez 25-16
Kevin “Gonza” Gonzalez and Israel Mateos stunned top-seeded Shorty Ruiz and Chava Cordova in a 12-10 tiebreaker thriller to advance to the final in the upper bracket, while 2017 WPH Outdoor Player of the Year Samzon Hernandez teamed with New York’s Allan Sanchez to advance to the final in the bottom bracket.
With Team Hernandez/Sanchez leading by a game and the score tied at 10 in game two, Gonza appeared to hit a serve that landed on the back line but was called out. After a discussion of nearly three minutes, play resumed. Team Gonza/Masteos overcame the questionable call to force a third. Team Hernadez/Sanchez regrouped, dominating the tiebreaker to win the title.
Final: Team Hernandez/Sanchez def Team Gonza/Mateos 12-6, 11-12, 12-3
3WallBall Big Ball Singles
Danielle Daskalakis and Sandy Ng cruised to the finals of the 3WallBall Big Ball singles and would be playing for not only the 3WallBall Big Ball title, but valuable X-Fest points as well.
Sandy Ng continued her stellar weekend in Las Vegas, using a combination of deep serves, crosscourt angles, fly kills, and whip kills to oust the defending 3WallBall Big Ball singles champion in two games.
1WallBall Small Ball Singles
Sandy Ng and Martina McMahon met in the 1WallBall Small Ball singles final, with both winning impressively in their semifinal matches. McMahon and Ng played evenly for the first 12 points of the match, but Ng’s 1-Wall Small Ball experience became too much to overcome for the 1-Wall Small Ball rookie. Ng pulled away by pushing McMahon to the corners and effectively using the 1-Wall block to impede McMahon’s swings.
Final: Ng def McMahon 25-15
1WallBall Big Ball Singles
Jenny Qu was seeking her second consecutive 1WallBall Big Ball singles title at the 3WallBall Championships, while Sandy Ng was seeking revenge for her finals loss to Qu at last year’s 3WallBall Championships.
Qu continued to own the 1WallBall Big Ball Women’s Singles in Las Vegas, dominating Sandy Ng for the second consecutive year in the final. “Jenny just controlled the center of the court and was dominating the action,” stated WPH reporter Pete Papathemetrios. “Jenny put the ball down flat with splat kills and when she didn’t have setups, she pushed Sandy into the corners with overhand drives.”
Final: Qu def Ng 25-11
Women’s X-Fest Final Standings
First: Sandy Ng
Second: Martina McMahon
Tied Third: Tracy Davis/Danielle Daskalakis
Fifth: Jenny Qu
“I’m really excited to win the X-Fest,” stated Ng. “This is always a great tournament and I always enjoy playing here.”
Jenny Qu was gunning for a Vegas slam in the Women’s 1WallBall Big Ball Doubles. Qu teamed with Crystal Ruiz and faced New York City rivals Mel Sky and Jessica Sky in the Sunday morning final. Qu maintained her momentum from her early morning singles win, as Qu and Ruiz were in sync throughout the final, building a lead and cruising to the title.
Final: Team Qu/Ruiz ded Team Sky/Santiago 25-17
Sandy Ng was in search of her eighth 3WallBall doubles title on Sunday morning and her seventh with partner Tracy Davis. Team Ng/Davis would face the Women’s WPH Outdoor’s most decorated champion Tanisha Groomes and cross over superstar Danielle Daskalakis in the final.
Team Daskalakis/Groomes started aggressively in the 3WallBall Big Ball doubles final, taking game one by shooting the ball from everywhere and connecting. “Tanisha really goes for her shots and when they’re landing, she’s very tough to stop,” stated Davis.
The seven-time defending champions bounced back in game two, playing steady and executing their offensive opportunities to force a tiebreaker.
Team Daskalakis/Groomes took their chances in the tiebreaker, shooting for the bottom board and finding it en route to an 11-5 lead. An error from Groomes and another by Daskalakis opened the door slightly, but Daskalakis ended the match in style at 11-7 with a flat mouse. “I thought about going for a pass, but I just figured, we have a lead, I’m just going to go for it,” stated Daskalakis. “It felt great to end the match with that shot to and win this title.”
JR WPH Singles
JR WPH proudly hosted the 2017 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships JR WPH singles, with more than 25 youngsters competing on handball’s greatest stage. The youngsters demonstrated exceptional skills and passion for the game during the singles event. “We’ve been watching a lot of these juniors for the past four or five years and it’s incredible to see how much they’ve improved,” stated WPH Executive Director David Vincent. “We especially love watching the great sportsmanship and friendships the junior players have developed at the tournaments over the past few years.”
12-and-under: Abraham Espindola def Jacob Marin 12-4, 12-2
15-and-under: Eddie Rocha, Jr. def Michael Bautista 12-2, 12-4
17-and-under: Mauricio Molina def Jesus Mendez 12-4, 12-5
19-and-under: Daniel Barrientos def Octavio Romero 12-10, 12-9
Thank you to the entire WPH staff, the WOR staff, tournament director Mike Coulter, all of the volunteers and all of the players for making the eighth edition of the 3WalBall Outdoor Championships a sensational event.
Read about every day from the 2017 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships here: http://wphlive.tv/2017-3wallball-daily-updates/
To follow the draws and results from the 2017 WPH/WOR 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships, go here
WPH Senior Writer