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The 2018 Armed Forces
Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 5/25/18- The Fred Lewis Foundation was proud to present the 2018 Armed Forces Tribute Tournament to honor our military heroes at the Tucson Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ on Memorial Day Weekend. Men’s singles and doubles divisions, women’s singles, age level and skill level singles and doubles, and junior singles brackets were presented, with a number of the country’s top professional and amateur players participating.
The mission of the 2018 Armed Forces Tribute Tournament is to honor our veterans on Memorial Day weekend. “San Diego hosted the Semper Fi tournament for a lot of years on the marine base just outside of San Diego, but the marine base lost its courts in the last couple of years,” stated 2018 Armed Forces Tribute Tournament director and USHA Hall of Fame member Fred Lewis. “We want to continue to honor our military heroes and keep the tournament going.”
Full Tournament Draws, Brackets and Results, HERE>
Men’s Pro Singles in Slow Motion and in Chronological Order
The handball capital of the world provided plenty of excitement in honoring our military on Memorial Day Weekend, as four of the top five ranked Race 4 Eight pros and six of the top 18 R48 pros competed in the 2018 Armed Forces Tribute Tournament.
WPH Race 4 Eight #1 pro Killian Carroll made the trip to Tucson from Boston to defend his 2017 Armed Forces Tribute singles and doubles titles. Carroll successfully defended his R48 Player’s Championship for the third consecutive year in early May to cap a sensational 2017/18 R48 season that saw “Flash” win a staggering six of seven R48 stops, making him the most prolific single-season R48 Men’s champion in the seven-year history of the tour.
Joining R48 #1 Killian Carroll in the star-studded Armed Forces draw were top five R48 stars Sean Lenning (#2), Mando Ortiz (#3), and David Fink (#5), as well as local favorites and top 18 R48 pros Shorty Ruiz (#12) and Abraham Montijo(#18). Current USHA Collegiate Men’s Open singles champion and former R48 top 30 pro Leo Canales, Jr. rounded out the deep Armed Forces men’s pro singles draw.
Carroll predictably advanced to his second consecutive Armed Forces final with three routine wins, allowing double digits in just one of his six games en route to the final. Carroll’s sternest test came in the semifinals against R48 #3 Mando Ortiz, as Carroll saw his 15-5 first game lead cut to 16-15 after a frenetic Ortiz run. Carroll scored 26 of the final 29 points of the match to advance.
R48 #2 Sean Lenning’s road to the final was not nearly as smooth as Carroll’s, as he failed to close out the first game of his quarterfinal match after leading 19-14 against Leo Canales, Jr., needing a tiebreaker to advance to the semifinal. Lenning’s semifinal win against R48 #5 David Fink was more straightforward, as Lenning was in control for most of the way, needing only to survive a late second-game Fink rally to close out the match in two games.
Carroll and Lenning met five times during the 2017/2018 R48 7 season, with Carroll winning four of the five encounters. Carroll and Lenning staged a Memorial Day Weekend Fireworks show in the sensational two-game final, with both superstars lighting up the highlight reel with incredible dives, kills, re kills, and outrageous shots.
Carroll started quickly in the final, leading 4-0 before Lenning took a timeout to stretch his legs. Carroll stretched his lead to 7-0 when Lenning seized the momentum, scoring nine consecutive points in just four minutes. Lenning skipped a back wall setup by inches at 9-7, handing the serve and the momentum to Carroll. Carroll would take a 14-11 lead and eventually lead 17-14. “These games to 21 are completely different,” Carroll would later say. “We’re used to going to 15 on the tour and 15 feels like just halftime in these 21-point games.” Carroll and Lenning traded points and side outs and points until the end of game one, with Lenning appearing too fatigued to finish rallies. Carroll seized game one, breathing a sigh of relief after clinching the one-game lead. “We were both really tired in there,” stated Carroll.
The five-minute break appeared to reenergize Lenning, and Lenning started quickly in game two, building a 4-0 lead. Carroll climbed back into the game, making incredible retrieves and shots to take control. With Carroll leading 17-16, the pair staged one of the most exciting rallies in recent memory, with both players diving three times and Carroll ultimately winning the rally on the 37th shot. “I’ve been watching handball for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like that rally,” stated Tucson handball fan Don Carroll.
Carroll won the final four points of the match, clinching his second Armed Forces title.
WATCH THE FULL PRO FINAL (NO COMMENTARY/LIMITED ANGLES) HERE:
“I know that was only two games, but that was the best match I’ve ever seen,” stated Tucson’s “Commish” Scott Cleveland. “The match was just phenomenal.”
Round of 16
Carroll def Schilz 21-2, 21-3
Lenning def Murillo 21-6, 21-5
Fink def Lugo 21-2, 21-0
Ortiz def Canales, Sr. fft
Montijo def Aranda 21-4, 21-6
Ruiz def Henning 21-12, 21-14
Canales, Jr. def Espinoza 21-5, 21-11
Natale def Fernandez 21-10, 15-21, 11-7
Round of 8
Carroll def Natale 21-3, 21-6
Lenning def Canales, Jr. 19-21, 21-5, 11-5
Fink def Ruiz 21-6, 21-2
Ortiz def Montijo 17-21, 21-16, 11-5
Carroll def Ortiz 21-15, 21-3
Lenning def Fink 21-10, 21-16
Carroll def Lenning 21-17, 21-16
Men’s Pro Doubles
The ’18 Armed Forces Men’s Pro Doubles field featured seven of the game’s top men’s pro players. Team Carroll/Montijo entered the event as the defending champions, having never lost a match together as a team. Team Carroll/Montijo kept their undefeated streak intact, cruising to the final.
Team Ruiz/Ortiz have won numerous 3-Wall titles together as a team and maintained their team chemistry indoors, holding off Team Lenning/Fernandez in three games to advance to the final.
Despite the noon wakeup call, Team Shuiz was not awake for game one of the final, dropping the game in just nine minutes. “A French fry?” questioned an exasperated tournament assistant referee Jesse Aranda in reference to the 21-1 score line.
Team Shuiz came to life in game two, taking a 12-6 lead on the strength of a boisterous glass-banging crowd and emotionally-charged handball. Team Carroll/Montijo was unfazed, scoring nine consecutive points to take a 15-6 lead. “This is just fantastic handball,” stated Brad Marker, who made the trip from Idaho to watch the best players in the world.
Team Carriljo would eventually lead 20-15, but four unsuccessful attempts to win the match led to a 20-20 tie. Team Shuiz was unable to capitalize on two attempts to force a tiebreaker, as Team Carrolijo clinched the Armed Forces for the second consecutive year to remain undefeated as a team.
Montijo/Carroll def Fink/Vincent 21-9, 21-11
Ortiz/Ruiz def Lenning/Fernandez 21-20, 10-21, 11-2
Final: Montijo/Carroll def Ortiz/Ruiz 21-1, 21-20
Women’s Pro Singles
WR48 #6 Dr. Ashley Moler headlined a strong women’s pro singles field at the ’18 Armed Forces. Joining Dr. Moler in the Armed Forces women’s draw was 1990’s collegiate All-American Beth Blackstone and FLF juniors Belisa Camacho, Kena Byrd-Jackson, and Sophia Della Croce.
Dr. Ash dropped just two points en route to the final, while Blackstone was pushed to the limit by teenage sensation Byrd-Jackson in the bottom bracket semifinals before advancing.
Dr. Moler took control of the final against her Tucson rival, pushing Blackstone into the back court with punch fist drives and executing kills when given the opportunity. “I haven’t really been training so my conditioning isn’t great right now,” stated Moler, who also advanced to the semifinals of the “A” singles. “Beth and I had a lot of really good rallies and it was a lot of fun.”
Moler def Camacho 21-1, 21-1
Blackstone def Byrd-Jackson 21-19, 21-12
Final: Moler def Blackstone 21-8, 21-5
Thank you to tournament sponsor, the Fred Lewis Foundation, and tournament directors Fred Lewis, Abraham Montijo, Charlie Wicker, and Vince San Angelo for an outstanding weekend of handball.
To follow the brackets and results from the 2018 Armed Forces Tribute, click here
WPH Senior Writer
Armed Forces Tribute ‘18: Day 2
The Fred Lewis Foundation’s Salute to the Troops Handball Tournament (formerly, The Semper Fi, San Diego, CA), in Tucson, AZ, this memorial weekend, reached the business end of the tournament with Super Saturday, as players from three countries and twelve states all converged on the Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club to watch and play great handball (Brackets Posted Here).
Men’s Pro Singles
Carroll def Ortiz 21-15, 21-3
Lenning def Fink 21-10, 21-16
Final: Carroll vs. Lenning (Sunday)
Final: Montijo/Carroll vs. Ortiz/Ruiz (Sunday)
Match of the day:
Tournament host Abraham Montijo battled R48 #3 Mando Ortiz in a sensational three-game battle. The hometown favorite took game one on the strength of a sizzling right hand, but Ortiz leveled the match with his two-handed attack in game two. After 70 minutes of play, the pair had scored the same number of combined points midway through the third game with Ortiz serving a 5-4. A 16-shot rally ensued, with Ortiz and Montijo playing through some contact and Ortiz winning the rally. “I needed a call there (from the referee),” quipped Montijo. Ortiz found his serve to the right and scored six of the final points of the match to dash the dreams of the hometown hero
Current collegiate national champion Leo Canales, Jr. trailed R48 #2 Sean Lenning 14-19 in game one before reeling off seven straight points to take game one. “Leo made great shots to win that first game, finding the the right board with virtually every swing” stated ESPN/WPH play-by-play broadcaster Dave Vincent. Lenning rallied to win the match in an entertaining tiebreaker.
Biggest story-line going into Saturday:
Killian Carroll continued to dominate in defense of his singles and doubles Armed Forces titles, dismantling Mando Ortiz in the singles semifinals and keeping his perfect record with partner Abraham Montijo intact in the doubles semis.
The Fred Lewis Foundation’s Salute to the Troops Handball Tournament (formerly, The Semper Fi, San Diego, CA), in Tucson, AZ, this memorial weekend, is underway as players from three countries and twelve states all converged on the Tucson Racquet and Fitness Club for some competitive Handball (Brackets Posted Here).
Men’s Open Singles
Round of 8 (Saturday)
Carroll vs. Natale
Lenning vs. Canales, Jr.
Fink vs. Ruiz
Ortiz vs. Montijo
Men’s Open Doubles
Lenning/Fernandez def Espinoza/Murillo
Fink/Vincent def Canales Jr./Aranda 21-5, 21-13
Montijo/Carroll vs. Fink/Vincent
Ortiz/Ruiz vs. Lenning/Fernandez
Tucson’s Vinnie Natale battled Juarez’s JR WPH Coach of the Year in a three-game thriller, with the 40-something Natale ousting the 20-something shotmaker in a dramatic tiebreaker. “Vinnie got hot to start the tiebreaker and held off Richie with clutch kills to advance,” stated tournament director and top pro Abraham Montijo.
Highlight of the day:
Dave Vincent came to the courts straight from the orthopedic surgeon’s office, where he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 LCL Tear. “I’m playing,” stated DV, in reference to his quarterfinal doubles match-up. Playing in just his fourth tournament match in six years, Vincent held his own against the current collegiate national champion Juan Canales, Jr. and Phoenix’s Jesse Aranda, ending both games with beautiful left-handed dump kills and extending a number of rallies throughout the match with diving retrieves and backhand front corner paddle-flips. “Fink played amazing, as he literally went three on one throughout the match,” stated DV. “As for my knee?? We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good.”
Biggest storyline going into Saturday:
Can Killian Carroll continue his magical season? Can anyone stop the Carroll Express?
Find out more by following the progress, HERE, or come back to this thread for updates.
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