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San Francisco’s Olympic Club will proudly host the Race 4 Eight for the second time since first stop in the Golden Gate City in 2015. The Olympic Club is one of the country’s most celebrated athletic clubs, home to five U.S. Open Men’s Golf Championships and proud sponsor of many of the country’s best athletes. Players and fans will be treated to outstanding facilities and a special Saturday night “Mucha Party” following the R48 and WR48 semifinals.
San Francisco features the 19th stop in the history of the WR48, dating back to the inaugural WR48 event at the 2013 Simple Green U.S. Open. The WR48 San Francisco ‘19 features six ranked WR48 stars, highlighted by 16-time WR48 champion and WR48 #1 Catriona Casey.
Top U.S. WR48 stars Tracy Davis, Ashley Moler, Courtney Peixoto de Melo, and Danielle Daskalakis will be aiming to defend the American flag, with each superstar trying to become the first American-born WR48 champion.
Breaking down the WR48
Catriona Casey: Casey was ruthless in her conquest of the 2015 WR48 Olympic Club, outscoring her three opponents 90-7 (93%), a record that still stands for the largest margin of victory on the Race 4 Eight tour. Casey brings a 55-2 WR48 match record to the 2019 WR48 San Francisco and will be the prohibitive favorite at the OC
Tracy Davis: Davis is a living legend who continues to add to her legacy at 42 years of age. Davis owns more than 40 national pro championships and currently sits at #2 on the WR48, a testament to her skill and dedication
Ashley Moler: Moler is a former college softball star who brings tremendous athletic ability to the WR48. Moler recently won 2019 USHA Women’s Classic (March) in dominating fashion and currently holds the WR48 #3 ranking, the highest ranking of her WR48 career
Cianna Ni Churraoin: CNC has announced herself as one of Catriona Casey’s greatest challengers on the WR48, pushing Casey to a tiebreaker in the 2017 WR48 NYAC final and nearly forcing a third game at the 2018 WR48 Tucson Memorial final (November). CNC is the current USHA collegiate national champion and has advanced to the final of her last two WR48 starts
Danielle Daskalakis: 2D is the 2015 World WallBall champion and one of the game’s greatest cross over stars. 2D advanced to the semifinals of her only WR48 start in 2018 (NYAC) and currently sits in the WR48 top 10
Aisling Reilly: 2012 and 2015 4-Wall World Champion Aisling Reilly makes her return to the WR48 after nearly three years off the tour, seeking her second WR48 title. Reilly is just one of three players to have won a WR48 title (Casey, McMahon) and has appeared in the most WR48 finals (8) of any WR48 star outside of Catriona Casey
Can Cianna break through? Can Aisling win her second WR48 title? Will an American make history? Tune in to ESPN3 on March 30-31 to find out.
The 2018/19 R48 Men’s Pro season has featured four different champions in six events, six different finalists, and the arrival of the “Flying Cordovas” as a force on Sundays. “This has been the most exciting season in professional handball history with all of the great matches and different players winning,” stated the USHA’s Matt Krueger.
Breaking Down the Elite 8
Killian Carroll has maintained his R48 #1 ranking despite winning just one of the first six events, in large part due to his consistency, as “Flash” has appeared in three finals in his four R48 8 starts. Carroll won six of seven events during the 2017/18 R48 7 season and adding the World Championship in August, making Carroll the undisputed #1 player in the sport
Sean Lenning has remained the R48 #2 on the heels of a dominant win at the 2018 Tucson Memorial (November) and a finals appearance at the 2019 Montana Red Death. Lenning has looked unstoppable at times this season and will look to bring that dominant form to Frisco.
Danos Cordova has climbed into the top two (tied with Lenning) after his second win of the season at the 2019 R48LTE USHA/WPH Hall of Fame (March). Danos started the season at #4 and made his breakthrough in his third R48 final at the 2018 Portland (December), dismantling Carroll en route to his first title. Danos has positioned himself for a chance at the year-end #1 ranking.
Lucho Cordova started the season at #6 and wasted little time climbing into the top three, clinching his maiden R48 title on his home court in Atlanta in the first stop of the season (October). Lucho has advanced to the semifinals or better in all six of his R48 8 starts, including his second R48 victory at the 2019 New Orleans R48LTE (February).
Vic Perez has climbed three spots since the start of the season, advancing to the quarterfinals or better in his six R48 8 starts this season. Perez advanced to his first R48 final at the 2019 New Orleans R48LTE (February), where the LAAC’s top-ranked star ousted Danos Cordova in the semifinals.
David Fink has notched wins this season against R48 top five stars Danos Cordova, Sean Lenning, and Vic Perez, while losing tiebreakers to Killian Carroll and Lucho Cordova. Fink advanced to his first final in 23 months at the 2019 R48LTE USHA/WPH Hall of Fame (March) and will aim to build on that momentum in San Fran
Emmett Peixoto will be defending his home court at the 2019 R48 Olympic Club, a venue that has seen “The Rock” win an astounding 16 Olympic Club singles championships. Peixoto has been sponsored by the Olympic Club since he was a teenager and has been aiming to peak for March’s R48 Olympic Club stop all season
Marcos Chavez continues to defy Father Time with an inspiring 2018/19 season that has seen the Southern California Handball Hall of Famer earn his way into the R48 Elite 8 for the first time. Chavez boasts impressive wins this season against Peter Funchion, Emmett Peixoto, David Fink, and Shorty Ruiz, while nearly defeating Vic Perez and Lucho Cordova. Known for his back wall prowess, Chavez is always dangerous.
Breaking Down the Frisco Qualifier
Jonathan Iglesias advanced to the quarterfinals at the R48 8 Portland (December) by defeating David Fink and currently sits at #10, his highest ranking since 2016. Iglesias’ blend of outdoor and indoor skills makes “Churches” a very difficult matchup for any pro
Erik Torres is former Olympic Club singles champion (2017). ET advanced to the quarterfinals in Portland (December) by defeating Mando Ortiz and currently sits at #11. Torres possesses the smoothest strokes on the tour while generating effortless power. Torres’ fans have been waiting for their man to crack the sport’s elite, will it happen on his home courts?
John Wayne Cortez: “True Grit” pre-qualified for San Francisco at the LAAC R48 Pre Qualifier (December), knocking out Dylan Hernandez in the final. Cortez had been on the cusp of qualifying for several years and by virtue of his LAAC Pre Qualifier victory will play in the R48 main draw for the first time. JWC is a dangerous sharpshooter who has the game to take down just about anybody in the sport
Shorty Ruiz will be seeking his 13th straight qualifier in San Francisco, a record-streak that started in the spring of 2017. Ruiz’s best finish of the season was 9th at the 2018 Tucson Memorial (November). Ruiz currently sits at #12. Ruiz is the three-time 3WallBall 3-Wall singles world champion and has all of skills to become one of the best indoors as well
Leo Canales, Jr: The 2018 USHA collegiate national champion is enjoying a breakthrough season with wins against Mando Ortiz, Jonathan Iglesias, and Shorty Ruiz. Canales has moved up 15 ranking spots thus far this season, currently sitting at a career-best #13. Canales is the youngest player in the R48 top 15 and appears to be on the road to the Elite 8
Danny Bell: The 2005 USHA national pro singles finalist still has plenty of game in his late 50’s, as evidenced by winning the 2018 Albany Open (November), defeating three former pro players along the way. Bell with bring his dump shots and fiery intensity to Frisco, aiming to become the oldest qualifier in R48 history
Chris Tico was a former top 12 pro on the USHA Spalding/Gatorade pro tour in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and will be attempting to qualify for the first time on the R48. Tico is in great form, having just dominated the 50+ singles at the USHA National Master’s singles two weeks ago in Tucson
Abraham Montijo is one game’s steadiest players, armed with a tremendous serve and revolving door back wall kill. Montijo has been plagued by injuries in the past two seasons but appears to be healthy now, a dangerous proposition for the tour
Loren Collado has been steadily improving, adding shots and wins to his CV and sitting at #14 on the tour. Collado plays a “throwback” game that relies on percentage shot making and punishing his opponent’s mistakes. The Olympic Club sponsored Collado will be aiming for his first main draw R48 win of his career on his home courts
Coleman McGrath: Santa Barbara’s crew star is undoubtedly one of the fittest stars on the R48 tour and a potential future #1. McGrath qualified for the first time at the 2018 R48 Portland (December), overpowering R48 veteran Stephen Cooney en route to an 11th place finish
The Funchion Brothers are similar to the Bay Area’s “Bash Brothers” of the late 1980’s, as the Irish powerhouse brothers bring a lot of game to the tour. Look for the Irish Bash Brothers to make some noise in San Fran
Young Guns: Ivan Burgos, Michael Gaulton, Sean Kerr, and Max Langmack are 20 years younger than several of the Elite 8 stars…it’s only a matter of time until these Young Guns make their marks on the professional level
Ryan Bowler: The “Bowl Dog” has been proudly carrying the Maple Leaf for five years on the R48 tour, representing the Great White North with tremendous hustle and a great attitude. Bowl Dog has given many of the R48 stars fits and will look to do the same at the Olympic Club
Adam Bernhard: “Weekend at Bernie’s” was spit out from a 1950’s time machine, a cerebral assassin armed with a deft ceiling touch, lob serve, precision fist shots, and a deadly back wall kill to unsettle even the game’s top stars. Bernie will be seeking his first qualifier breakthrough in more than one year in San Fran.
The San Francisco qualifier starts on Thursday night at 6 pm PST at the Olympic Club and will be completed on Friday morning. The R48 main draw will commence late on Friday morning, while the WR48 will also kickoff on Friday morning.
ESPN3 2019 San Francisco Broadcast Schedule:
Saturday, March 30, 10 am-7 pm PST
Sunday, March 31, 10 am-1:30 pm PST
Watch ESPN3 HERE
2018/19 Race 4 Eight stats HERE
WPH R48 Power Rankings: here
R48 Fun Facts and Trends: here
Race 4 Eight History of Champions and Finalists: 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, Texas, 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 email@example.com World Players of Handball Development Director David Fink at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the World Players of Handball, please visit wphlive.tv
WPH Senior Writer
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