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Sampras

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Tucson, AZ, WPH Press, 4/22/19- The inaugural R48 Men’s Pro 2018/19 Next Generation Cup kicked off this season, as an influx of ultra-talented 26-and-under stars have flooded the tour aiming to unseat the R48 veterans and make their mark on the greatest stage in the sport. Through eight R48 Men’s Pro events, The Race for the 2018/19 Race 4 Eight Next Generation Cup is heating up. Follow the exciting Next Generation below.

2018/19 R48 Next Generation Rankings Through SF ‘19

  1. Leo Canales, Jr. (3.5)
  2. Peter Funchion (3.5)
  3. Erik Torres (3)
  4. Loren Collado (2.5)
  5. Max Langmack (2.1)
  6. Tyler Stoffel (2)
  7. Coleman McGrath (1)
  8. Sean Kerr (1)
  9. Sam Esser (0.5)
  10. Michael Gaulton (0.1)

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Lake Forest College’s 2018 Collegiate National Champion Leo Canales, Jr. has taken the 2018/19 Next Generation season points lead (alongside Peter Funchion), becoming the only Next Generation star to have earned R48 ranking points in the first seven R48 Men’s Pro events this season. The “Juarez Kid” has authored three of this season’s greatest comebacks, rallying from a 3-18 deficit in the one game to 25 qualifier final in Atlanta against John Wayne Cortez to win 26-24, fighting off six match points in the Tucson Memorial ’18 qualifier final against Jonathan Iglesias to win 27-25, and rallying from match point 14-10 down in the third game at the Tucson R48LTE Hall of Fame ’19 to defeat former R48 #1 Mando Ortiz, 16-14. Canales has proven that he can take down the top stars in the game, while also showing that no lead is safe against the even-tempered Juarez star.

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Ireland’s Peter Funchion started the season on the short list of 2018/19 Next Generation Cup favorites, but a disappointing first start at Atlanta ’18 and the inability to make any stops between November and late March stalled PF’s Next Generation Cup momentum. Funchion returned to the tour with a strong showing at San Francisco ’19, playing Killian Carroll close in their first game in the round of 16 and dominating the 9th place playoffs. Funchion nearly defeated R48 #3 and two-time R48 8 champion Danos Cordova at the 2019 R48LTE NYAC and currently sits tied for first in the Next Gen standings with Leo Canales, Jr.

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The Olympic Club’s Erik Torres sits at #3 on the 2018/19 Next Gen Cup standings, earning all of his season’s points with a come-from-behind win against then #8 Mando Ortiz in Portland (Ortiz has seen enough of the Next Genners this season). Torres scored the final five points of the match against Ortiz in a third game that saw the smooth-swinging Californian trailing Ortiz 10-13.

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The Olympic Club’s Loren Collado sits at #4 on the 2018/19 Next Generation Cup standings. The UC Berkeley handball coach nearly defeated 13-time Olympic Club singles champion and former R48 #2 Emmett Peixoto in Atlanta and registered his best finish (10th) at the Tucson Memorial ’18.

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Max Langmack burst onto the R48 tour at the 2018 R48 7 Houston, upsetting Abraham Montijo to qualify and finishing 10th by defeating R48 #8 Marcos Chavez. Langmack was on the short list of players to watch entering the 2018/19 R48 8 season and delivered in the first event of the season, nearly defeating eventual Atlanta ’18 champion Lucho Cordova and finishing 10th. Shockingly, Langmack has qualified just once since, and unfortunately, suffered a dislocated and lacerated finger in the 17th place final in San Francisco ’19, potentially placing the rest of his season in jeopardy.

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Minnesota State’s Tyler Stoffel has been a player to watch since winning titles as an early teen, but shoulder surgery in 2017 derailed the North Star State’s prodigy. Stoffel made an impressive return to the tour after a 13-month hiatus, qualifying in Tucson ’18 and Montana ’19 by defeating fellow next generation stars Max Langmack and Michael Gaulton and finishing 11th in both starts.

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Sean Kerr started the 2018/19 R48 8 season having never qualified but broke the barrier in Montana ’19, ousting Canadian R48 veteran Ryan Bowler and qualifying again in San Francisco ’19, rallying from a 6-19 deficit in the one game to 25 qualifier final against Loren Collado on Collado’s home court to qualify for the second time.

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Santa Barbara’s rowing star and the pride of the South End Rowing Club Coleman McGrath qualified for the first time in his R48 career at the 2018 Portland R48, overwhelming R48 veteran Stephen Cooney to book a spot in the round of 16 and taking down Aaron Garner in the 9th place playoffs to finish 11th. Armed with two great hands and limitless power, McGrath has a very bright future on the R48.

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Sam Esser is a former USHA collegiate national finalist (2018) with two great hands and the game to compete against the best. Esser earned his R48 stripes in the first event of the 2018/19 R48 8 season, ousting then top 30 R48 pro Nick Mattioni in the Atlanta qualifier final. Look for the “Kansas Kid” to make his mark on the R48 in the very near future.

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Michael Gaulton has attempted to qualify the most times (21) of anyone to not have qualified, but earned a ranking point (.1) in Montana by defeating his Canadian mentor Ryan Bowler. Gaulton appears to be on the verge of breaking through, but needs to figure out how to bring his best game to qualifier finals.

Meet handball’s Next Generation and the criteria for being considered a Next Gen star HERE

Become a WPH Patreon HERE

Race 4 Eight bios 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, New York, 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 dave.vincent@wphlive.tvor World Players of Handball Development Director David Fink at david.fink@wphlive.tv. For more information on the World Players of Handball, please visit wphlive.tv

David Fink

WPH Senior Writer


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