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Sampras

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Pittsburgh, PA, WPH Press, 1/12/20- In perhaps the most competitive Ladder in the country, “Smokin’ Joe” Delsardo became just the third WPH Pittsburgh Ladder #1 since 2009 (Fink, Semplice, Delsardo). Firmly entrenched in the top three since 2012, SJ had never reached the top of the mountain until his furious streak on the second week in January.

SJ started his climb to the top with a routine midweek victory against “Big Game” Kirk Rys, a cagey veteran who has given SJ fits. “I’ve never seen Joe so accurate and consistent with his right hand,” stated Pittsburgh’s most expressive on-court star Rys. “Whether a fly kill or a back wall, he was laying them down. To me it looks as if he’s taking just a bit of pace off his shot, and in doing so, finding his sweet spot.”

SJ then challenged the four-year WPH Pittsburgh Ladder #1 “199” Mike Semplice. Semplice had been clinging to his #1 ranking despite weeks and sometimes months of inactivity and did not do the WPH Pittsburgh Ladder proud at the 2019 Tucson Memorial, earning the nickname “199” for being the only player in the field to forfeit his money matches. SJ’s wins against 199 had been few and far between, earning games but rarely matches. Many of SJ’s losses included the former University of Pittsburgh starting wide receiver screaming, “I can’t beat him, I’ll never beat him.”

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The Friday morning showdown saw the top two ranked WPH Pittsburgh Ladder stars split the first two games, but unlike in previous matchups, SJ was able to deliver the knockout blow in the third, ending 199’s reign atop the standings.

The newly minted #1 faced a stern challenge just two days later, as perennial top four Ladder star “JCC” Andrew Joseph was chomping at the bit to dethrone the new king. JCC had enjoyed a number of victories against SJ in the past, including a three-match winning streak against the now #1 last year. JCC appeared to be within striking distance of reaching #1 for the first time, taking game two to force a tiebreaker. “I’ve never seen JCC play this well,” stated WPH Pittsburgh Ladder ambassador and coach “RFC” Rodney Fink. “JCC is lean, he’s not getting tired, and he’s making the right shots.”

SJ withstood the new and improved JCC 2.0, winning the tiebreaker to validate his #1 ranking.

To earn a spot on the WPH Pittsburgh Ladder, you must beat a current Ladder member in an official sanctioned match. Once on the Ladder, Ladder points are earned by head-to-head wins, tournament starts and wins, hosting pro players at RFC events, coaching junior clinics, making donations to the WPH, and sending detailed reports of matches.

[thumbnail_IMG_818011-300x225]All of the WPH Pittsburgh Ladder stars will be in action at the WPH R48LTE/SR48 RFC in Pittsburgh, PA, February 28-29, 2020, with many of the Ladder stars competing in the R48LTE and the SR48. Double Ladder points will be available in late February, meaning each Pittsburgh Ladder member will be peaking for the Leap Year event.

Enter the February 28-29, 2020 WPH R48LTE/SR48 RFC in Pittsburgh, PA HERE

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David Fink

WPH Senior Writer


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