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Sunday: Day 4
Finals Sunday featured an electric atmosphere at the Olympic Club, as the R48 and WR48 stars aimed to add their names to the WPH San Francisco crystal.
WR48 Final: Casey vs. Ni Churraoin
Catriona Casey and Ciana Ni Churraoin met for the third time in a WR48 final, with Casey appearing in her 19th consecutive WR48 final (in 19 WR48 events) and CNC booking her third finals trip in her last four WR48 starts.
Casey and CNC played to a standstill through the first half of the first game, with two of the greatest women’s athletes in the world tied at 11. “Ciana can hop the serve and she plays a lot of offense with her left,” Casey would later say.
CNC had three opportunities to win the 12th point but was unable to put the ball away. Casey capitalized on two CNC errors to serve for the game at 14-11 and an inexplicable right hand back wall error from the short line gave Casey the first game. “Just too many mistakes from Ciana to beat Catriona,” stated Marcos Chavez.
Casey seized control in game two after falling behind 2-5, scoring 13 of the final 14 points of the match to win her 17th WR48 in 19 WR48 starts.
“Ciana is really improving and she has so much power,” stated Casey. “I definitely had to be at my best. I want to wish my mom a Happy Mother’s Day (in Ireland) and I want to thank the hosts here for an incredible tournament, the WPH for the WR48 tour, and my sponsor Owen Gloves and the New York Athletic Club.”
Final: Casey def Ni Churraoin 15-11, 15-5
Tracy Davis overcame good friend Danielle Daskalakis to advance to the 5th place WR48 final to meet NorCal rival and sparring partner Courtney Peixoto de Melo. CPM bounced back from a quarterfinal loss to Ciana Ni Churraoin to defeat Ashley Moler en route to the 5th place final. Davis and CPM traded the lead seven times in their 65-minute one game to 25 point 5th place final, with the pair arriving at 22-all following a 28-foot left handed fly kill from Peixoto.
5th Place Playoff: Davis def Peixoto de Melo 25-23
San Francisco WR48 Finishes:
2nd: Ni Churraoin
6th: Peixoto de Melo
Killian Carroll and Sean Lenning met for the third time in a R48 final this season, with the R48 #1 and R48 #2 splitting thrilling encounters in Tucson (November ’18) and Montana (January ’19). The rubber match would give the winner two R48 titles on the season, tying him with Lucho (2) and Danos (2) Cordova.
Both Carroll and Lenning started slowly in the first game of the final, as both were exhausted from a difficult road to Sunday. Carroll led 4-0 in game one before Lenning served, but an early timeout from Lenning switched the momentum, as Lenning scored 10 of the next 11 points by taking advantage of Carroll’s heavy legs. Carroll closed the gap to 9-10, but Lenning surged again, scoring the final five points to take the first game.
Carroll played with greater intensity from the first point of the second game, bouncing on his toes and diving and scrambling to keep rallies alive. Carroll also found his kill shot stroke with both hands, routinely finding the bottom board with his left and right. Carroll took control of the match midway through the second and never looked back, overwhelming Lenning with offense and defending the vaunted Lenning serve with an automatic fist to the ceiling.
With the win, Carroll now ties the “Flying Cordovas” with two titles on the season, 12 wins overall (2nd most all-time), and a substantial lead at the top of the rankings.
“I expected more from myself in the first game and I started to play better in game two,” expressed Carroll. “I hope to be able to catch Paul’s (Brady) record of 14 R48 titles (Carroll now has 11).”
Final: Carroll def Lenning 9-15, 15-6, 15-9
Top 16 R48 pros Leo Canales, Jr. and Max Langmack battled through a loaded 22-man 17th place playoff draw, culminating at San Francisco’s South End Rowing Club. Tied at 22 in the one game to 25 point final, Langmack dove towards the back wall in a desperate attempt to return a Canales power reverse serve, dislocating and splitting open his finger and immediately putting an end to a sensational 17th place final. “Luckily my finger didn’t break or I’d be out for the rest of the year,” remarked Langmack. “I should be ok in 3-4 weeks.”
David Fink ousted Marcos Chavez en route to the 5th place final, while Vic Perez narrowly escaped Shorty Ruiz to setup Sunday’s 5th place final. Fink defeated Perez in their only encounter this season in the Tucson Hall of Fame R48LTE quarterfinals. Fink played aggressively in the 5th place final, pushing Perez side-to-side and hitting kills at a high percentage. “Fink just applies so much pressure and if you don’t put the ball down he will,” stated Marcos Chavez sitting courtside.
Both Abraham Montijo and Peter Funchion received forfeits into the 9th place final, meaning that after three matches on Friday, both had an off-day on Saturday. Funchion was too strong for Montijo in Sunday’s opening match on ESPN, overwhelming the Tucson pro to win 9th for the second time in his R48 career. “I was just too tired in there today,” stated Montijo.
5th Place Final: Fink def Perez 25-8
9th Place Final: Pet. Funchion def Montijo 25-12
17th Place Final: Canales, Jr. def Langmack 22-22 (inj. fft)
San Francisco R48 Finishes:
3rd: D. Cordova/L. Cordova
9th: Pet. Funchion
11th: Bernhard/Pad. Funchion
17th: Canales, Jr.
Thank you to 2019 San Francisco R48/WR48 tournament directors Lou Barberini and Joey Mucha for working tirelessly for months leading up and during the event to make the 2019 San Francisco R48/WR48 an outstanding event!
Thank you to Joey Mucha for the Saturday night “Mucha” Bash, one of the best in R48 history!
Thank you to the WPH staff and broadcast team for another sensational event (55 awesome events and counting). Thank you to all of the donors for making the 2019 San Francisco R48/WR48 event possible and thank you to all of the players for showcasing handball at the absolute highest level.
2019 San Francisco Weekend Broadcast Replays on ESPN3 HERE
To follow all of the draws from the 2019 San Francisco R48/WR48 HERE
WPH Senior Writer
San Francisco, CA, WPH Press, 3/30/19
Saturday: Day 3 – The R48 and WR48 draws were trimmed to two players by the end of Saturday’s play at the Olympic Club.
Catriona Casey continued to rule San Francisco, overpowering Fionna Tully in Tully’s first WR48 semifinal to book her ticket into her 19th WR48 final in 19 WR48 events. “Fionna is an excellent player with two very good hands so I needed to be at my best to beat her today,” stated Casey.
Two-time World Champion and 8-time WR48 finalist Aisling Reilly met current USHA collegiate national champion and 2-time WR48 finalist Ciana Ni Churraoin for the first time since 2016 for a spot in the final. Reilly started well, building a 5-0 lead in game one in her first inning. CNC worked her way back into the game with a medium-pace serve down the left followed by right-handed power drive or kill to tie the game at eight. CNC pulled away to win the first and appeared to be in complete control with an 8-1 lead in game two. Reilly demonstrated the skills that made her the 2012 and 2015 World Champion, hitting ace serves and back wall kills to take a 10-9 lead. CNC regrouped, scoring six of the final seven points of the match to earn the greatest match win of her career.
Casey def Tully 15-2, 15-3
Reilly def Ni Churraoin 15-11, 15-11
WR48 Final (Sunday): Casey vs. Ni Churraoin (10:45 am PST)
Shorty Ruiz ran into Killian Carroll for the second time in his second R48 main draw quarterfinal, with Ruiz seeking his first R48 semifinal. Carroll built a 10-3 lead in game one, capitalizing on nine Ruiz errors and three ace serves. Ruiz called his second timeout and blitzed Carroll for eight straight points following the 60-second break, taking an 11-10 lead. Ruiz’s second serve at 11-10 came around the revolving door, leading to a Carroll kill and halting Ruiz’s momentum. Carroll scored five consecutive points and cruised in game two against an exhausted Ruiz. “I was just trying to maintain my front court positioning and not let him push me into the back corners where he could dump balls for kills,” stated Carroll to ESPN reporter Kara Mack.
Danos Cordova was aiming for his seventh R48 semifinal of the season, but would have to overcome R48 #8 Marcos Chavez. Chavez defeated Danos at the 2017 Player’s Championship. Cordova dominated game one, defending Chavez’s best shots and shooting the ball with both hands to route the greatest 45-year old athlete on the planet. “I only scored one point and that was on a Sapo (lucky shot),” yelled Chavez in between games.
Danos raced to an 8-1 lead in game two and his seventh R48 semifinal of the year appeared to be a certainty. Chavez caught fire, climbing back into the match with revolving door kills and punch-fist re kills. Chavez forced overtime after facing match point but could not force a third game. “I really could have won that in overtime but I didn’t convert a couple of back shots,” lamented Chavez.
Sean Lenning and David Fink met for the second time in three weeks, with Fink defeating Lenning in the semifinals of the Tucson USHA/WPH Hall of Fame R48LTE in mid March. Lenning was out for blood in the final quarterfinal of the morning, dominating Fink from the beginning to end to secure a two-game sweep.
Cordova def Perez 15-7, 15-10
Cordova def Chavez 15-1, 16-14
Lenning def Fink 15-3, 15-4
Killian Carroll found himself down 1-13 in game one of the first semifinal, as Lucho Cordova pushed Carroll all over the court and dominated the action during the first 14 points. The game appeared to be just a formality, with Cordova needing just two points to clinch the one-game lead. Carroll, however, had other ideas. Carroll dove multiple times in nearly every rally, including seven dives in one rally and found his serve to change the momentum of the match, reeling off 14 consecutive points to stun Lucho.
Lucho demonstrated his resilience in game two, finding a way to overcome his first game loss to take a 14-9 lead in game two. Carroll staged another comeback, this time scoring six consecutive points to serve for the match at 15-14. Lucho earned the side out and scored three consecutive points to force a third game.
Danos Cordova led throughout a laid back first game against Lenning, with both guys appearing content to hit half speed shots and paddle kills. “This definitely has a different intensity than the first semifinal, almost lackadaisical,” stated ESP play-by-play announcer Dave Vincent. Lenning continued to play laid back ball in game two, but unlike in game one, converted a high percentage of his kill shot attempts to force a third.
Lenning stayed in the groove in game three, finding the right balance between being relaxed and intense. Lenning held Danos to just one kill on the 17-point third game, while killing 19 balls, including five flat roll outs. Lenning ended the match on a 30-8 run, winning his four Saturday games by allowing six points or less.
“I felt relaxed in there and I was impressing myself with a lot of the shots I was making,” stated Lenning while patting himself on the back. “Sometimes you have to give yourself credit and today I deserve some.”
Carroll def L. Cordova 15-13, 15-17, 15-1
R48 Final (Sunday): Carroll vs. Lenning (11:45 PST)
2019 San Francisco Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3: Sunday, March 31, 10 am-1:30 pm PST. Watch ESPN3 HERE
10:00AM VIC PEREZ VS DAVID FINK (5TH FINAL) OR PETER FUNCHION VS ABE MONTIJO (9TH FINAL)
10:45AM CIANA NI CHURRAOIN VS CATRIONA CASEY
11:45AM KILLIAN CARROLL VS SEAN LENNING
San Francisco, CA, WPH Press, 3/29/19
Friday: Day 2
The R48 and WR48 top stars were in action in the Golden Gate City on Friday, with the action starting at 8 am and continuing late into the evening. Players and fans were treated to outstanding facilities and hospitality, equaled only by the outstanding play by the R48 and WR48 elite stars.
The 2018/19 WR48 kicked off its second event of the season, as the top women’s stars took to the Olympic Club’s famed courts in pursuit of WR48 ranking points and the coveted WR48 San Francisco title.
Catriona Casey continued her mastery at the Olympic Club, picking up where she left off in her 2015 90-7 romp by crushing Irish counterpart Megan McCann in two games to advance to her 19th WR48 semifinal in 19 WR48 starts.
Cianna Ni Churraoin was too strong for NorCal’s Courtney Peixoto de Melo, taking down the 2004 USHA national women’s finalist and 2018 WR48 Las Vegas finalist in two games. CNC will be seeking her third WR48 final in her last four WR48 starts on Saturday.
Aisling Reilly made her first WR48 start in nearly three years, looking as sharp as ever in defeating WR48 #2 Tracy Davis in two games.
WR48 Quarterfinal Finals
Tully def Moler 15-9, 15-13
Ni Churraoin def Peixoto de Melo 15-6, 15-5
Reilly def Davis 15-4, 15-7
WR48 Semifinals (Saturday)
Reilly vs. Ni Churraoin (2:45 pm PST)
The R48 San Francisco qualifier concluded on Friday morning, as the top eight players advanced through one of the deepest and largest qualifier draws of the season.
2019 All Ireland 40×20 semifinalist Paddy Funchion overcome the tour’s 2019 breakout star Leo Canales, Jr., making clutch shots to pull away from the “Juarez Kid” at 21-all to qualify for the first time in 11 months.
Abraham Montijo was too strong and too experienced for the SERC’s Coleman McGrath, creating openings with percentage play to dominate the future R48 star. “I mentally prepared for a very close match and when I got a lead and I just kept pushing,” stated Montijo.
R48 Qualifier Finals
Bernhard def Torres 25-22
Cooney def Langmack 25-14
Kerr def L. Collado 25-22
Pad. Funchion def Canales, Jr. 25-21
Montijo def McGrath 25-10
Pet. Funchion def Gaulton 25-13
Ruiz def Bowler 25-12
R48 Main Draw
Killian Carroll faced a stern test from countryman Peter Funchion, as the R48 #1 found himself tied with Funchion at 10 in game one in his first R48 start in two months. Carroll found his groove, scoring 20 of the final 23 points of the match to advance.
Daniel Cordova faced longtime R48 rival Stephen Cooney, overcoming the “Coon Dogg” in two games. “I can’t hop the ball but Daniel sure can,” barked Cooney.
Lucho Cordova ousted rising Irish and R48 star Sean Kerr, Vic Perez was steady and consistent in eliminating 2018 NYAC quarterfinalist Paddy Funchion, while David Fink weathered a second-game rally from Adam Bernhard to advance.
R48 Main Draw Round of 16 Finals
Carroll def Pet. Funchion 15-10, 15-3
Cordova def Cooney 15-7, 15-9
Cordova def Kerr 15-11, 15-7
Perez def Pad. Funchion 15-11, 15-5
Fink def Bernhard 15-0, 15-9
Ruiz def Peixoto 6-15, 15-7, 16-14
Chavez def Montijo 15-8, 12-15, 15-5
Carroll vs. Ruiz (10 am PST)
Cordova vs. Perez (10:45 am PST)
Cordova vs. Chavez (11:45 PST)
Lenning vs. Fink (12:45 PST)
Thank you to Alex Tico for hosting a number of the world’s best players in a sensational tour around San Francisco in one of the best late-night dinners, desserts, and sight-seeing journeys in R48 history!
2019 San Francisco Broadcast Schedule on ESPN3: Saturday, March 30, 10 am-7 pm PST, Sunday, March 31, 10 am-1:30 pm PST. Watch ESPN3 HERE
OLYMPIC CLUB, SAN FRANCISCO, CA
MARCH 28-30, 2019
(All Times Pacific)
Follow the draws, HERE: https://goo.gl/yahS8w
Sunday, March 31st — LIVE on ESPN3 & WatchESPN App ~ 10am – 1:30pm
*Troubles watching on ESPN3? Gather more info on how to tune in via your smart device, smart TV, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and more, go to http://www.espn.com/watch/. Streaming info on ESPN is found here: https://goo.gl/KGBuzT.
**WPH Patreon Supporters having alternative viewing options that will be posted each day; plus exclusive player interviews, and more! http://www.patreon.com/wphlive
Thursday: Day 1
The 55th Race 4 Eight event in the eight-year, 16-state history of the tour kicked off at San Francisco’s Olympic Club on Thursday with a special R48/WR48 player trip to Alcatraz, followed by a packed evening of R48 qualifier handball featuring 36 hungry qualifiers in search of one of the eight spots in Friday’s 16-player R48 main draw.
David Fink teamed with fellow SR48 star Pete Papathemetrios to face Marcos Chavez and John Vargas in the first handball match at Alcatraz since 1963. The foursome battled 40 mile per hour winds and dazzled more than 1,000 Alcatraz tourists in a three-game thriller, ultimately won by Fink/Papa. “That’s definitely the most fun I’ve had playing handball,” barked Fink. “What an experience!”
Thursday Night Qualifier
Follow all of the qualifier brackets HERE
San Francisco R48/WR48 Full Player Preview HERE
For more info on the 2019 San Francisco, including starting times and to follow the brackets go HERE
Become a WPH Patreon HERE
2018/19 Race 4 Eight stats HERE
2018/19 Race 4 Eight Preview HERE
2017/18 R48 and WR48 Match Analytics HERE
Race 4 Eight Pro Player Bios HERE
WPH Power Rankings HERE
DF’s R48 Fun Facts and Trends HERE
WPH RACE 4 EIGHT: The World Players of Handball’s 2018/19 Race 4 Eight 8 Powered by ESPN features R48 stops in Georgia, Arizona, Oregon, Montana, Louisiana, and California, all culminating with The Player’s Championship in Utah in May of 2019.
Similar to NASCAR’s Nextel Cup and the FedEx PGA Playoffs, players earn points in the Race 4 Eight’s regular season stops to qualify for the season-ending Player’s Championship and bonus prizes.
For more information on the WPH Race 4 Eight, please contact World Players of Handball Executive Director David Vincent at firstname.lastname@example.org or World Players of Handball Development Director David Fink at email@example.com. For more information on the World Players of Handball, please visit wphlive.tv
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