2019 Coney Island Players Championship

The 7th Annual Coney Island Player’s Championship Honoring Papa Schneider, Sr.

CONEY ISLAND, N.Y. -- New York’s ValeU Group and its generous donors were proud to present the 7th Annual Coney Island Player’s Championship Honoring Papa Schneider, Sr., featuring the largest and deepest O-Wall Small Ball field of 2019.  Small Ball superstars Timbo Gonzalez, Tyree and Jurell Bastidas, Mike Schneider, Carlin Rosa, Robert Sostre, Cesar Sala, Joe Kaplan, Tywan Cook, Andres Calle and many more were on hand to compete for one of the most prestigious prizes for One-Wall Small Ball Pro Singles and Masters (40+) handball.

“We are committed to promoting and supporting One-Wall Small Ball handball,” stated Jared Vale, president of ValeU Group and one of One-Wall’s greatest contributors and promoters. “Our aim is to revitalize this form of the game; for more people to play it and watch it!  We were very excited to sponsor the One-Wall Small Ball singles at the WPH’s RFC 11 R48 Pre Qualifier in July and the WPH’s R48 Pre Qualifier in Tucson in early September, as well as the upcoming 1-Wall Small Ball singles at the 3WallBall Outdoor World Championships at the end of September. Of course, we’re thrilled to present the 7th Annual Coney Island Player’s Championship Honoring Papa Schneider, Sr. featuring the best of the best in the sport.”

The Men's Pro Draw produced colossal upsets, as four-time Player’s Champion and top-seeded Tyree Bastidas was stunned by Big Ball superstar Tywan Cook in the round of 16.  The 2017 3WB 1-Wall Small Ball champion and third seed Jurell Bastidas was also stunned in the round of 16 by Jonathan Camacho.  Finally, defending USHA National One-Wall Small Ball Open champion, Timbo Gonzalez was ousted by PeeWee Castro in the quarterfinals. “The small ball field is open for the taking right now,” stated One-Wall veteran Cesar Sala.

Cook continued his stellar play following his upset of Tyree, knocking out 2018 Florida Cup 1-Wall Small Ball champion Carlin Rosa in the quarterfinals to face Geo Vasquez in the upper bracket semifinals. “Tywan’s success in Small Ball is not surprising, he is an excellent singles players,” stated Sala.

Geo ended Cook’s Player’s Championship run, but not before Cook was awarded with Player’s Championship MVP honors by tournament host Jared Vale.
The bottom bracket featured the two most exciting matches of the tournament, as Victor LoPierre overcame Jonathan Camacho, 25-24, to meet Pee Wee Castro in the bottom bracket semifinals. PeeWee appeared to be heading for the 7 Train, trailing defending national champion Timbo Gonzalez 23-16 in the quarterfinal but found a way to turn the momentum in his favor and advance, 25-24. “Timbo had a few chances to win but PeeWee’s Small Ball experience was the difference,” stated Vale.

PeeWee coasted past LoPierre in the bottom bracket semifinal to face Geo in the final.

PeeWee was in control in the final against Geo, once again relying on his experience and shot making to take the title. “PeeWee was making great shots and great gets in the final, you could see his Small Ball experience was the difference,” stated Vale.

The Masters 40+ Singles featured arguably four of the best players in the world. “There were certainly whispers that a few of the 40+ guys could have won the open title,” stated Vale.

William Polanco “zipped” his first two opponents en route to the upper bracket semifinals but ran into the rock-solid Kaplan, who defeated Polanco in another storied chapter in their 20-year rivalry.

Cesar Sala had little difficulty advancing to the final in the bottom bracket, defeating “Lefty” George Figueroa to face Kaplan in the final.

Kaplan proved to be too strong for Sala in the final, serving low bullets and fly-killing his way to the Masters (40+) Player’s Championship.

By David Fink, WPH Senior Writer Photos by Kirk Lewis

A word from Jared Vale, Tournament Director, Tournament Sponsor and USHA Northeast Region Director

Coney Island Players Championship recap! What can I say? Just a great day all around. Too many to thank but I will try. First off Mother Nature for cooperating and allowing us to honor Mike Schneider Sr. with spectacular competition accompanied with great sportsmanship!

Thank you to ALL of the participants. For showing up on time, assisting with refereeing and line judging.  In the Open division Congrats to champion Yuber Pee Wee Castro, finalist Therealking Vazquez and MVP Tywan Cook.  In the Masters division congratulations to champion Joe Kaplan and finalist Cesar Sala.

Thanks to my co-host Billy O'Donnell for coordinating the bracket and running the games flawlessly. And BBQ/Gatorade Pete who prepared food and provided drinks to all - on his BIRTHDAY!

Laurence DuBois my head ref, coach who lead the masters division and McFyllth!!! Your presence and professionalism was invaluable. We are making great strides here. And yes to Eddie Styles and Paul Yagual for taking the short line in the quarters semis and finals!

Mike S., thank you for coming out of retirement, participating and for allowing us to continue this tradition in honor of Papa.  And especially to our sponsor for the last 7 years and good friend of Mike Schneider Sr. Mr. Elliott Joseph. Your amazing generosity is enabling all of the above while keeping a glimmer of hope alive that small ball one wall handball will live on.

Last but not least, thanks to my wife Janet Stojic (Vale) who allows me to do what I love. Just please change your name on Facebook already :)

I am looking forward to the continued growth of NYC handball.  We are definitely headed in the right direction.

Men’s Pro Results (One Game to 25-points):
Tywan Cook d. Carlin Rosa 25-21; Geo Vasquez d Saul Gonzalez 25-14; Victor LoPierre d. Jonathan Camacho 25-24; PeeWee Castro d. Timbo Gonzalez 25-24.
Vasquez d. Cook, 25-18; Castro d. LoPierre 25-19.
Final: Castro d. Vasquez, 25-15.

Masters 40+ Singles Results
Joe Kaplan d. William Polanco 25-19; Cesar Sala d. George Figueroa 25-12.
Final: Kaplan d. Sala 25-13.

Huge thank you to Jared Vale and the ValeU Group and all of its donors for hosting another outstanding 1-Wall Small Ball event.

Next stop, Vegas and the ValeU Group 1-Wall Small Ball Singles at the 3WB Outdoor World Championships. Enter HERE.

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