NEWS

David Chapman Memorial Collegiate Scholarship

David Chapman grew up as a junior handball phenom in California before attending school at Missouri State University, winning four open singles, three open doubles titles and All-America honors during his time there.  Thanks to the generosity of contributor Kevan Del Grande, a David Chapman Memorial Scholarship has been established for collegiate players from California and/or Missouri or attend schools in either state. 

Eligibility:  Any full-time collegiate handball players who are either attending school in California or Missouri or grew up in either state and is an active handball player or playing in a college program.  The intent is to reward students with good academic records that demonstrate financial need.

Award:  $1,000 scholarship payable to students or paid direct to student's school.  Winner will be announced by Dec. 15. 

How to Apply: Applications may be submitted by individuals.  Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. a letter outlining current academic status and course work, GPA,  handball experience, and how the money would help further the applicant's education.  Any letters of recommendation from a handball or scholastic mentor are recommended. 

Application Deadline:  October 15th of each year

 

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Chatten: Bold Hair, Same Smile

Chatten Hayes, 2012 Carl Porter Award recipient and Über-Volunteer hostess is rocking a new look this week. And David loves it (and her)!  She had major surgery in early September, and doctors found ovarian cancer. She began chemo earlier this week. The surgeon expresses the discovery like this: “We threw a brick through a plate-glass window and got all the big pieces swept up, and now we are doing some “mop-up” chemo to take care of any remaining cells.” Her cancer is the type most responsive to treatment and it didn’t spread beyond her abdomen.

Chatten wants her handball family to know she feels wonderful about “Doc G’s” sense of humor and skill and the care she’s received. She and David are so grateful for the enormous support shown by friends, family, neighbors, players, colleagues and even the mailman and regulars at the coffee bar.

Chatten has this to say:

“I am grateful for my lifetime of excellent health. This was my first time in a hospital, let alone having any surgery. We joke a lot over here, go big or go home!

(Right-to-left).
Chatten Hayes with hairstylist Eian and husband David Steinberg.

As for my hair, well, I think we all know how I feel about my HAIR. It’s basically the only vanity I indulge in – I will never be on the best dressed list or drive a hot car. But … my hair. When I was told I’d lose it, I decided immediately to shave my head. And we made a party out of it. My friend Eian Petry has been keeping my locks gorgeous for more than 22 years. He opened his salon last Monday (which was also his 60th birthday) to do it.  We laughed so hard my hair flew off!!!

I will continue to sport this look (while spending next to nothing for hair care – sorry, Eian) for a few months, and don’t be surprised if the Pacific Boxer team shows up in Springfield next February with a few baldies! It was discussed at a team meeting a couple of weeks ago. Solidarity, baby!

In that spirit, I will donate $50 to ovarian cancer research for every player who is shaved while playing a tournament – text or email a photo to me (503-880-4314 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with the who/whats/whens.

And the First Donor is: Sean Lenning – I’m a fan of you and your hairline! You are going to have a great WPH R48Pro season! So I count $50 in the kitty already. Oh, and maybe I should include David? Ok, $100.

I need to add that we are being very selective about where our information is coming from. David and I are limiting ourselves to information and anecdotes provided to us specifically about MY cancer from MY team. It’s enough to take in what’s right in front of us. We are asking everyone to curb kindly impulses to provide more for us to digest. We appreciate your understanding.

Lastly, I remind all you gals to PAY ATTENTION. You can find more information about the subtle and somewhat mysterious symptoms here: http://ovarian.org/about-ovarian-cancer/what-are-the-signs-a-symptoms

My dear friends, I love you muchly and I loved Handball from the moment David introduced me. Thank you from the bottom of my hair-er-HEART, for decades of loving me back, and I’ll see you soon.” -- Chatten

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Tucson Memorial & WPH R48Pro VII Stop #2

TUCSON -- Handball is often defined as a fraternity of players, a tight-knit population.  When we lose someone, the effect ripples through the community, whether we played regular matches with that person, watched them at tournaments or were intertwined through the many tournaments and leagues across the country.  When there's a loss, the community comes together.  Players, fans and friends turned the Tucson Racquet Club into a three-day handball gala, remembering and honoring those who passed while the top players battled it out in the WPH R48Pro VII Stop #2. 

Setting the table for Sunday’s action, Samzon Hernandez (Los Angeles) defeated Timbo Gonzalez (New York) 15-14, 15-9 in a thrilling Big Ball 4 Wall Singles final.  It was a classic battle between the top-two big ball stars from opposite coasts.  After trailing for much of the match, Hernandez caught Gonzalez at 13-13 and was able to take away the first game.  In the second, Gonzalez never fully recovered from a 6-0 deficit and played catch-up the rest of the way until Hernandez sealed match point.      


In the Women’s R48Pro final, Martina McMahon (Limerick, Ireland) won her first WPH event defeating Catriona Casey (Ballydesmond, Ireland), 14-16, 15-9, 15-3.  With a commanding serve and showing amazing two-handed power and versatility, the Southpaw McMahon held game point in the first game at 14-11 only to see Casey claw back to win by two.  Although she fell behind 6-1 in the second game, McMahon’s resolve didn’t waiver as she continued her brilliant play to outscore Casey 14-3 to force the tiebreaker.  McMahon’s momentum continued to roll in the tiebreaker as she won handily by a 12-point margin. 

“To beat [Casey] in 40X20 is something special.” McMahon said during the trophy presentation.  “She shouldn’t have gotten that first game and she did, but that’s Catriona, she fights to the end.  She went up 6-1 in the second.  I usually I lose the head, but I’ve been trying working on that.  I have the hands and just need to work on the thoughts in my head.”  McMahon credited her brother, coach and mother for support and helping her reach the next level of mental toughness.  

Immediately following that barn-burner was the highly anticipated R48Pro final between Robbie McCarthy (Westmeath, Ireland) and current two-time USHA champion Killian Carroll (Boston).  McCarthy started the match with the hot hand and in control, leading 5-0 before Carroll could counter.  But once Carroll got onto the scoreboard, he didn’t look back, showing off tremendous athleticism, out-hustling, out-shooting and outscoring McCarthy 30-5 to claim his second R48Pro final victory of the young season winning 15-9 and 15-1. 

“Robbie doesn’t come to the pro tour very often, and he’s number one in Ireland right now.  To show that I can, not just play American players, but play Irish players, too.” Said Carroll.  “It’s a very important win for me.” 

As a qualifier, McCarthy played a few extra matches leading up to the round of 16, and against Sean Lenning (Tucson) in the semifinal, he was looking up at match point at a 14-1 deficit.  Showing intense grit and desire, McCarthy made the remarkable comeback, winning 5-15, 16-14 and 15-4 to reach the final. 

To wrap up the Tucson Memorial, Braulio Ruiz and Timbo Gonzalez won the Men’s Big Ball Doubles, defeating Alfredo Morales and Esteban Erazo. 

The Tucson Memorial completed an unbelievable weekend of handball.  Congratulations to the WPH for hosting a tremendous event and bringing live handball to the airwaves at ESPN 3 and the WatchESPN App. 

Watch the replay HERE (Click on the "Schdule & Replays" tab, choose "Replay," then choose "Handball" under the "All Sports" drop-down button.  Check with your provider to see if you have access to WatchESPN). 

See the final results on the tournament R2sports page HERE.


 

TUCSON -- Scott Cleveland and Kara Mack talk about the names added to the Memorial Trophy this year during the Saturday evening memorial service. Ben Manning (WPH Film Crew) and David Chapman (nine-time USHA National Four-Wall Singles Champion). 

On the court, Robbie McCarthy rallied from a 14-1 deficit in the second after losing the first to Sean Lenning to advance to Sunday's final against Killian Carroll.  Catriona Casey and Martina McMahon have been on a collision course to face each other on Sunday.  

In the Big Ball, it's a showdown of outdoor stars from opposite coasts and disciplines.  California's three-wall star Samzon Hernandez squares off against New York's Timbo Gonzalez.  Follow the results and watch the acton from the Tucson Racquet Club, live.

See the draws, times and results on the tournament R2sports page HERE.

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67th USHA National Three-Wall Championships

MAUMEE, Ohio --  There's a new rivalry brewing in Women's Three-Wall!  Defending champ Hilary Rushe and challenger Ashley Moler thrilled the Labor Day crowd on hand as well as the throng of online viewers to one of the most exciting Women's Open finals in recent years.  While Rushe successfully defended her crown by edging Moler 16-21, 21-1, 11-10.  You can still watch this and other matches from Toledo on the U.S. Handball YouTube Channel HERE.
     Hoping to unseat the defending champ, Moler forced the action in game one, delivering punishing power shots and pushing serves "out-the-door" for aces to reach a 20-12 lead.  With confidence running high, Moler appeared to have the first game in hand, but Rushe battled back with a four-point run before missing a near-kill only inches from the crack.  That late run set the tone for the second game, and Rushe answered Moler's challenge with purpose and force behind her shots. 
     Moler took note, "[Rushe] definitely started hitting the ball harder and playing more aggressively in that second game."  While Moler didn't let up, Rushe made sure the match would go to a third set.  In the tiebreaker, the two played to a stalemate as each had an opportunity for match point at 10-10.  Moler dove at a potential championship point, just missing a rekill.  With both players playing to their limit and with bloodied knees, Moler couldn't return Rushe's deep serve to the left and conceded match point.  As the two players completed a post-match hug and congratulations, it was obvious the crowd appreciated the effort and wanted more.  This possible "rivalry" stays between the court lines, as the two opponents paired to win the Women's Doubles to complete Rushe's Three-Wall Nationals slam. 
Men's Open Three-Wall Big Ball Doubles.
     Labor Day ushered the conclusion of the Three-Wall Nationals with a number of doubles finals.  In Men's Open Three-Wall Big Ball Doubles,  Braulio Ruiz and Carlos Lemus struggled early to keep pace with New York's Chris Miranda and Allan Sanchez but ultimately won the title, 14-21, 21-2, 11-6.  Sanchez and Miranda both dominated front court play, building an early lead and capitalizing on their opponent's mistakes.  While Ruiz and Lemus were frustrated early-on, they settled in nicely to start the second game building a big 16-1 lead as Ruiz caught fire-ending rallies with kills.  Forcing most of their serves deep and off the walls, Ruiz and Lemus continued to keep their opponents deep and from making plays in the front court.  The second game success carried over into the tiebreaker, although Sanchez and Miranda made adjustments in the tiebreaker, they only managed six points after falling behind early. 
     In Men's Open Three-Wall Small Ball Doubles, Marcos Chavez and Sean Lenning earned another title by holding off a second-game surge from Tyree and Jurell Bastidas to win 21-9, 21-19. The pair showed why they're the best doubles team in three-wall, as Chavez jumped all over their opponent's shots with rekills while Lenning unleashed his lethal service game.  The Bastidas brothers pressed hard in the second to force a tiebreaker as they maintained a lead at 19-17 before running into a spot of bad luck.  Tyree's first serve went into the floor followed by a Chavez shot that went just beyond Jurell's reach.  A Chavez kill would tie the score at 19 before the champions would win match point, drawing a celebratory shout and a ball-toss by Chavez.  The win sealed a slam for both:  Lenning in the Men's Open, Chavez in the Masters and Open Doubles. 
Chris Miranda steps into a shot in the Men's Wallball Doubles final.

     In Men's Open Wallball Doubles, Chris Miranda and Allan Sanchez played mistake-free handball, showing the three-wall crowd the fast-paced close action of Wallball doubles.  Playing against the Bastidas brothers, who had just finished the Three-Wall final moments before, Miranda and Sanchez didn't show any mercy en route to a two-game 21-6, 21-6 win.   
  Watch the streaming video of the matches on the United States Handball Association's Facebook Page HERE.
  See results and draws HERE.
 
 

Sean Lenning chases down a deep return in the Men's Open Singles Final.
SUNDAY
MAUMEE, Ohio --  Championship Sunday brought warm temps and clear skies, making the ideal conditions for all players competing on the courts at the Lucas County Rec Center.  Three-Wall Great Vic Herskowitz now has company on the all-time list as Sean Lenning won his 9th Three-Wall Singles crown defeating Tyree Bastidas, 21-4, 21-6.  While Bastidas showed tremendous athleticism that entertained crowds all week, he didn't have an answer to his opponent's devastating service game.  Lenning continuously uncorked a lethal low driving serve to the right that seemed almost nonreturnable.  The strong serve and uncanny court sense allowed Lenning to run away with big leads in each game, and a right-handed kill in the right corner sealed his ninth title.  Watch the complete match on the United States Handball Association's Facebook Page HERE.
     In Women's Open singles action, Hillary Rushe punched her ticket to the final and a chance to defend her title with a two-game win over Kristen Hughes of Texas, 21-5, 21-7.  A confident Ashley Moler delivered timely serves and passes in stopping nine-time champion Megan Dorneker in the semifinals.  Using the simple formula of driving her opponent deep and fly-killing returns, Moler stayed in control, winning 21-11, 21-8 to earn a rematch against Rushe.  "I've been playing a lot in Tucson, and it's definitely helped my game." Moler said post-match.   Watch the Facebook Live stream of the Women's Open Singles final and more tomorrow (Monday) at 9 a.m. (Eastern). 
  See today's results, tomorrow's match-ups and draws HERE.

Jurell Bastidas punches a ball to the ceiling against Sean Lenning in the semifinals.
SATURDAY
MAUMEE, Ohio -- For the fourth consecutive year, Sean Lenning and Tyree Bastidas will face each other in the Men's Open Singles final.  Both players appeared to be pacing themselves in the matches leading up to their annual showdown, but in the semifinals, each player turned up the intensity.  
     The day's first semifinal, Lenning put together an amazing "serve-and-shoot" clinic stopping Jurell Bastidas in two games, 21-5, 21-2.  In the second semifinal, Tyree Bastidas held Dane Szatskowski at bay by turning in two impressive 21-14, 21-15 games.  "He played great, plus he just so fast." said Szatkowski post-match.  Tomorrow's final match will be filmed by Buckeye Cable Sports Network.  Also watch for live stream option on Facebook at Noon (Eastern).  
     In Women's Open Singles semifinals action, defending champion Hillary Rushe will face off against Kristen Hughes and Megan Dorneker will match-up against Ashley Moler.  
     Congrats to the following age-division National titles winners from Saturday:  
     Masters (40-plus):  Kendall Lewis
     Masters B (40-plus): Junior Bermudez
     Golden B (50-plus):  Tim Thompson
     Veteran Golden (55-plus):  Matthew Osburn
     Super Masters (60-plus):  Marc Penick
     Diamond Masters (70-plus):  Rick Graham
     Veteran Diamond Masters (75-plus):  Norm Young
     See today's results, tomorrow's match-ups and draws HERE.

Dane Szatkowski shoots against Braulio Ruiz in the Men's Open Quarterfinals.  
FRIDAY
MAUMEE, Ohio -- Tiebreakers ruled the outcome of many matches on the second day of play at the 67th USHA National Three-Wall Championships.  In Men's Open singles, many fans cleared the stands thinking Dane Szatkowski's run would end in the quarterfinals to Braulio Ruiz.  Losing 11-21 and down 17-13 in the second, the match appeared to be wrapping, but impossible situations are exactly where Szatkowski thrives.  Fighting off match point, Szatkowski took the second game, 21-20.  In the tiebreaker, Szatkowski's serve started heating up, but Ruiz delivered a flat rollout to even the score at 5-5 to force a Szatkowski time out.  When play resumed, Szatkowski completed a 6-2 run, only yielding a side out and two points before acing match point.  Szatkowski will meet Tyree Bastidas in Saturday's semifinal. 
     In the other half of the draw, Marco Lemus and Jurell Bastidas delivered the next thriller.  After a big 21-6 game one victory, it seemed Bastidas would walk into the semis.  But Lemus battled back in the second, holding off match point and finishing a 21-20 win to earn a third game.  The tiebreaker was the same tense affair, with both players trading rallies and each having the chance to move onto the semifinals.  Bastidas' experience proved to be the deciding factor as he scored the final point.  Bastidas will face Sean Lenning in the other semifinal. 
     See results 
HERE.
 

Ricardo Palma shoots against Dan Valera in the Men's A Singles.
THURSDAY
MAUMEE, Ohio -- The 67th USHA National Three-Wall Championships kicked off under some cloud cover on a cool Thursday at the Lucas County Rec Center.  While most first-day first round contests can be mismatches,there were a few exciting 11-10 tiebreaker finishes.  In Men's Open Singles action, Oregon's Cody Townsend, making his first Three-Wall Nationals appearance, held off match point from Toledo's Tyler Stevens to regain the serve and score the decisive point to earn the victory. 
     In other first round action, Braulio Ruiz bounced Anthony Collado in two games, 21-10, 21-3.  Dane Szatkowski's experience was on display against Canadian junior phenom Ivan Burgos as the Chicago native ran away with a 21-1, 21-11 victory.  Marco Lemus stopped Matthew Chu, 21-14, 21-6 , while Jurell Bastidas moved past Ryan Bowler, 21-9, 21-9.  Finally Oregon's Dalton Beall battled with Juan Canales of El Paso in a close first game before winning 21-18.  Beall settled in during the second game and closed out the match with a convincing 21-9 win.  Beall will face defending champion Sean Lenning in tomorrow's quarterfinal at Noon on Friday.  See tomorrow's match-ups, results and draw HERE.
 
The Labor Day Holiday Weekend marks the end of summer as days become shorter (and cooler) in the coming months.  We love to celebrate this weekend with Toledo Handball crew and over 200 players signed up to battle on the courts for five days. 
    Don't forget to check out the "Things-to-do in Toledo" HERE.
 
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David Chapman, 1975 - 2017

The Handball Family around the world mourns the passing of David Chapman.  Chapman, 42, passed away suddenly in his home, Tuesday, October 10.

David Chapman was the youngest player to win a USHA National Four-Wall Open Singles Title at the age of 17 in 1993 when he defeated Randy Morones in the final.  He also won the doubles that year.  Chapman was a nine-time USHA Four-wall National Singles Champion, won two World Singles titles, held multiple doubles titles and was the No. 1 ranked pro handball player for nearly 10 years.  Whenever there’s discussion on who was the best four-wall handball player ever, Chapman’s name is at or near the top of the list.  In September, Chapman reached the final of the one-wall small ball final at the 3WALLBALL Outdoor Championships in Las Vegas.

Chapman’s death is a shock to all and our deepest sympathy goes to his family.

Read David Fink's touching tribute to David Chapman [HERE].

1993 4-Wall Nationals Men's Pro Singles Chapman vs. Morones (End of game 1 & Game 2, interviews)

 

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Ode to Toledo Handball © by Peter Peart (09/05/17)

 

Just before the days of summer may start to wane

Along comes the tradition of this venerable campaign

Set in a place with hospitality supreme

To Toledo, these warriors start to stream

 

It is our beloved game that they come to play

A grueling version, the 3-wall way

But before one point is played or scored

People gather to remember beyond the game that is adored

 

The outdoor elements and sometimes shadowy light

Adds to the atmosphere and utter delight

Before it is all said and done

These games to be played are only half the fun

 

Food and libations help to recount or embellish a memory

Families, friends revel in camaraderie

Perhaps a fierce rivalry will be renewed

Or new ones to begin in respect and gratitude

 

For each and every player, a single focus abound

By the end of the journey, he or she hopes to wear a crown

Into the hollowed trenches, the heated battle begins

The first two games to 21 wins

 

And should those two games not be enough

One more game, to eleven, rough and tough

From the rafters the arching ball rebounds

Often reaching beyond the natural end line a retriever pounds

 

Back and forth in this manner they go

These are some of the rhythms of this ebb and flow

Confining the action between the walls and the lines

The victor, in measured steps and dexterity combines

 

Whether ending a rally with the vaunted kill

Each point is contested with determination and will

To survive and move on is the mantra and daily goal

Remaining aloft, continue the fight in the winners fold

 

And should your efforts fall short of the desired top tier

Along the way, there is always encouragement, support and cheer

Perhaps in defeat, you shrug and gather your gear

Whispering deep inside, “I’ll rebound, there is always next year”

 

So who are these pursuers of this the perfect game

It would be Herculean in task to give you every name

So in fairness to all participants and warriors alike

This [space] is lovingly for you, Tom, Dick, Harry and Mike

 

When we think of these championships and the allure

There are legacies and dynasties that endure

The generations of men and women return each year to play

For the enjoyment of the game and to perhaps light the way

 

Many brothers team and this is great to see

Like Dane and Adam Szatkowski

Along with the brothers Anderson, Eric and Lee

Let’s not forget Bastidas’, Jurrell and Tyree

 

Munson, David and Mike, like playing brothers trust

Similarly with Lemus siblings, Marco and Carlos

To be sure there are also brothers who do not pair

But it does not mean that well, they do not fair

 

Zimet, Dan and Adam come to mind

Let’s not leave Dave and Larry Dohman behind

And to parent and child who also join the fray

Carrying on the traditions of our game, valiantly display

 

When we describe the accomplishment among the ranks

Let us applaud the double, double of The Franks

Son Nathaniel, slamming the Bs

And dad Alan, mastering with complimentary partners of last names Zs

 

Of course, there are also dozens more to laud

Beginning with impressive debut of Chris Persaud

And in the category among the merry

The successful pairing of Eisenbooth and Berry

 

By reputation, some participants are expected to win

As with Marcos Chavez and Sean Lenning

As they continue to dominate over the field

Year after year, even when pressed, they never yield

 

These championships, like so many are a grind

The toll they take are often visible on body and rattles the mind

We reach deep to find salve and solace, seeking to recover

Perhaps in time for next year, a solution to discover

 

*******

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Handball: Teach the Teacher Clinic at ASU

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The USHA, through the FIRST ACE Development Program, aspires to train new handball instructors to teach the game in schools, rec centers and clubs across the nation.  Through the efforts of Arizona State University Handball Coach Dan Willeford, a Handball: Teach the Teacher Clinic was held at the ASU Rec Center on Saturday, October 7.  Coach Willeford organized and conducted the clinic which certified eight new instructors, five of whom are on the ASU Handball Team and working to be part of the Mardak Endowment Program. 

The teaching clinic began with a "Handball Jeopardy" Q&A session in the classroom, reviewed lesson plans by LeaAnn Martin and Pete Tyson, discussed teaching strategies, and provided demonstrative drills on the court.

The goal is to have the certified instructors venture to Metro Phoenix high schools to promote handball and teach the game to new players.  Many of the instructors are alumni at the schools, and as members of the college handball team at ASU, they're testimony that students can play the game and compete at the collegiate level after high school.  The FIRST ACE Development Program will provide handball equipment for all the new instructors who will teach at their respective schools.  

This effort at Arizona State (and at other universities around the country), is part of the Mardak Community Challenge, where communities awarded funding will be tasked to find local funding to match the Mardak awards.  The Mardak funds will pay college students to teach handball and mentor younger students. 

Thank you to Coach Willeford, Sun Devil Handball and the new instructors for their efforts to Grow the Perfect Game! 

Do you want to host a Handball: Teach the Teacher Clinic in your area, or do you want more information about the Mardak Community Challenge?  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Hail, Cesar: Sala a N.Y. 1-wall Legend

The following feature appears in the August 2017 Handball Magazine.
USHA Members can access the full e-Magazine issue by logging on and visiting the "Member Section."
Not a USHA Member? 
JOIN HERE.

By Marc Penick
 

Sala concentrates in his 2008 USHA 0ne-wall Singles final victory against Satish Jagnandan.

New York handball players need no introduction to Cesar Sala. He has made his name for many years as a one-wall champion, with titles in big-ball and small-ball singles and doubles.
    Sala has a talent for all forms of handball, three- and four-wall included. One-wall, however, is the handball culture in New York, and Sala shares his story of developing his game in the parks and streets of NYC.
    Sala’s parents, Cesar and Ana, were born and raised in Puerto Rico. After Cesar Sr. left Puerto Rico for New York, he and Ana wrote letters back and forth, and he eventually proposed through a letter. Ana packed her things and ventured to New York to marry him. They were blessed with three daughters and a son, Cesar, the youngest in the family.
    Today Sala is 39, and he and his wife, Kathy, are raising daughters Kaycee, 10, and Emma, 7. They live in the Bronx, where Sala is a New York City police officer.
 

Sala, daughters Emma and Kaycee and wife Kathy.

    How did you meet your wife? 
    We met at a lounge called Redemption, and it was magic from the first moment I saw her. She drew me in with her beauty and enchanted me with her demeanor. Three years later we were married. Our beautiful girls are both passionate about dancing, makeup and fashion, like their mother.
 
    How and where did you start playing? 
    I’m originally from Brooklyn, where I went to Lincoln High School and Kings-borough Community College. I started playing in the early 1990s. My home courts were at Coney Island.

    The same courts where the pros play that we read about in the magazine?  
    Yes. I have watched some of the one-wall greats, such as Albert Apuzzi, Al Torres and the infamous Joe Durso. Coney Island was filled with great players. I was drawn to the game as a teenager. The atmosphere of being by the beach and playing in the sun was great. The game is also cheap to play, but the best part is that anyone could just show up and call next to get a game.

    Tell us a little about the New York handball environment. 
    Most places around the country, people would have to call each other to organize games. At Coney Island and most NYC courts, people just show up and find games anywhere! There are thousands of one-wall courts all over the city with people playing. Coney Island and West 4th Street were where a lot of the heavy hitters played.

    Which ball is preferred today at Coney Island?  
    Coney Island players compete in big ball, currently the dominant one-wall game, and small ball, the more traditional form. I gravitated toward the small ball because I enjoyed that world and got involved in three- and four-wall. I remember seeing this big powerhouse lefty four-wall player with a big loopy swing come in and shock the one-wall world by making it to the national final! Little did I know he was trying to be the first in a very long time to win all three nationals in the same year. As far as I know, John Bike is the last man to be in all three finals in the same year. He made a big impression on New York handball at that time.

    You’re a one-waller. Describe the difference between playing one-wall vs. three- and four-wall at the open level. 
    As crossover play binds the handball world, this sport will continue to climb into the realm of being a mainstream sport. Pro players from each version of our game are creating a larger spectrum of community by exchanging ideas, experiences and skill sets that pertain to their version of the sport.  For me, four-wall has been the most mentally challenging with all the extra angles and options. I love playing four-wall, but it can be a bit frustrating. My limited back wall, combined with aggressiveness I learned from one-wall, have led to some frustrating moments against the top four-wall players. In 2008 Danny Bell and I played David Chapman and Emmett Peixoto in the final of the Long Island Open four-wall event. David and Emmett were able to expose my weaknesses and beat us handily.

    Well, David and Emmett have done that to many very well-trained four-wall players
    Yes, I guess they probably have. They are great players.



    How about three-wall?   
    I remember playing Vince Munoz, who was the three-wall champ at the time, when he graced the courts of Coney Island at the one-wall nationals. I was an established one-wall pro who had won a few events. I went into the game with a chip on my shoulder and was able to beat him in the first game with ease. The second game was close, and Vince made some adjustments and edged me out by a point. The tiebreaker was exciting, and I was lucky to get the win against a legendary player. My first time playing three-wall, however, was an eye-opening experience. My first-round match was none other than Vince Munoz himself! Vince cleaned my clock as I scored a mere 3 and 6. I remember feeling like I was in every volley but I wasn’t scoring. To a one-wall player, the three-wall court is extremely long. Playing four-wall doesn’t entirely prepare you for the long side walls with no back wall.
 
    Where do you play nowadays? How often? 
    I’ve had a shoulder injury, but I’ve tried to keep involved as much as I can by volunteering my time to the ICHA, which has dedicated 20-plus years to our inner- city youths by having travel teams and coordinating events for youth development in NYC. Working with the community is important to me as an NYC police officer. I’m looking forward to playing again and competing at the World Police and Fire games in August.
 

Sala (left) with favorite partner Joe Kaplan.

Name your favorite doubles partners.
    My favorite partner without question would have to be Joe Kaplan. Joe embodies everything I strive to be as a handball player and as a person. Joe and I have played together for almost 20 years and have won our share of tournaments. His consistency combined with my knack for being unpredictable have earned us some nice success. Heart, loyalty and commitment are qualities to be admired, and Joe embodies precisely that.
 
    Any favorite tournament wins? 
    The first national doubles event Joe and I won was an amazing experience. We faced a familiar team of Kendell Lewis and Robert Sostre. They beat us in the final of another event earlier that year. Kendell and Joe were former partners, so there was always an extra intensity whenever we’d play him. Kendell was not only a talented handball player but also an exceptional athlete. Robert was the dominant figure in paddleball as well as a multinational handball champion. We defeated them in a hard-fought tiebreaker for the first of our four national doubles titles.
 
    How does your family view the sport with all your accomplishments? 
    My three ladies have shown their support both at home and at events whenever possible. My daughters will play ball at some point, and I’d like to see them play as a doubles team. I think their personalities along with their physical attributes will make for a strong team. Kaycee is lefty, tall and slender, while Emma is shorter and a right-hander. They are both very competitive and have interest in the game. It would be nice to see them play.

    How is the USHA doing, in your view?
    The USHA, ICHA and SAHA have meant so much to NYC handball for decades now, and I am forever grateful for the hard work they’ve put into this great game. They’ve paved the way for current organizers and associations such as wallball and the WPH.
 
    What do you think of the WPH? 
    The WPH and wallball are really taking handball to the next level in helping this great community grow. Wallball founder Jasmine Rey is seemingly everywhere shaking hands all over the world spreading the game of handball. Dave Vincent and David Fink are doing a great job with the broadcasting and handling of pro play.

    What do you see as the most important thing for continuing one-wall handball?  What about three- and four-wall? 
    In my opinion, the ball is a key to pushing the game to another level. We need a ball that’s somewhere between a small ball and a big ball that could work for all versions of the game. Perhaps a ball that has the speed and weight of a small ball along with the feel of a big ball. The big ball is too slow for the larger three- and four-wall courts. The current small ball is too fast for the smaller one-wall court. I agree the games are great as they are now, but I believe changing the ball might help the game improve as a spectator sport. In New York people are playing, hearing about and seeing more handball every day. It is only a matter of time before we reach the biggest stage, and I’m looking forward to being part of that. 

     
Sala’s 1-wall record

2000: USHA doubles champion
2000: World singles champion
2001: USHA singles champion
2006: USHA doubles champion
2007: USHA doubles champion
2008: USHA singles champion
2011: USHA doubles champion

  • 3-time Mayors Cup singles champion
  • 5-time Mayors Cup/Speakers Cup doubles champion
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