VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The throng of weekend beachgoers made for a crowded final day of the 2019 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships held at the Venice Beach Rec Center. Thousands of tourists walking along the boardwalk stopped by the courts and were amazed at the athleticism and talent the youngsters exhibited--especially those playing in championship finals.
Mauricio Molina (shown swinging) out of Palmdale, CA was relatively unknown playing in his first National Juniors, but he made sure everyone will know who he is with an amazing tournament. Molina came back from a game one route by Jesus Mendez to win the Boys 19-Under Big Ball singles, 9-21, 21-7, 11-5.
Molina's relentless pursuit of every ball eventually wore Mendez down, affording him better court positioning and more kill opportunities.
Mendez (with partner Eddie "Torito" Rocha) exacted some revenge in the Boys 19-Under Big Ball final, defeating Molina and Anthony Cubias in two games, 21-14, 21-6.
In other Big Ball finals, David Sanchez defeated George Mitchell in the 17-Under final, 21-10, 21-8. Earlier in the day, Mitchell clinched the 17-Under Small Ball title by defeating Fermin Victoria to go undefeated in round robin play.
Eddie Rocha won the Boys 15-Under Big Ball singles, holding off a late charge from Bryan Trejo, 21-5, 21-15.
In the Junior 11-Under Small Ball final, Ethan Noriega looked strong defeating Marco Barrera in two games, 21-4, 21-5. Barrera came back strong in the 11-Under Big Ball division, but he ultimately fell just short in the final to Andres Estrella, 21-14, 15-21, 11-9.
"X" marked the spot for the junior player who made the biggest impression on everyone at this year's Junior Three-Wall Nationals. Xavier Flores exhibited smooth and fluid strokes in every one of his matches. Big or small ball didn't make a difference to the young star who won titles in the 13-Under Small and Big Ball singles and the 13-Under Big Ball doubles with partner JJ Arellano. Look for Flores to be a force in the juniors for years to come.
A special "thank you" goes out to all the Southern California Handball Association board and volunteers for rolling out the red carpet for the junior players in Venice Beach. Also, thank you to Owen Gloves for awarding gloves to every finalist in all divisions. Thank you to the USHA's Ardito Fund and the Presidents Club who supported travel for players making the trip into Los Angeles. A BIG "thank you" to the parents and coaches who chipped in to make this an exceptional tournament. All junior players showed tremendous sportsmanship and exhibited the best behavior on one of handball's biggest stages!
See the final results on the r2sports site HERE.
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