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.
VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- A new 19-Under Champion was crowned on Saturday at the 2019 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships as Jon Gutierrez defeated Luis Mendez, 18-21, 21-13, 11-7. Gutierrez won his first trip to a National Junior 3-Wall Singles final in his last year of junior eligibility.
Mendez open the championship final with a strong serve and shoot game, but Gutierrez kept cool and kept pace even though he relinquished the first game. In the second game, Gutierrez turned up his serve and managed to keep Mendez in the deep court and away from kill opportunities. In the tiebreaker, Mendez tried to steal back the momentum with a high z-serve that produced a few crucial points. Gutierrez responded with an array of passes down the walls, the final shot being a deep drive to the left corner that Mendez couldn't return. A happy and relieved Gutierrez pointed upwards before shaking hands with his doubles partner.
The tough early morning singles final didn't sap the energy for Mendez and Gutierrez. They paired to win the doubles final with a two-game win over the newly formed team of David Sanchez III and Osby Perez, 21-12, 21-6. Their win in the doubles final helped Gutierrez complete the slam.
The Boys 17-Under singles will be determined on Sunday morning, but the 17-Under Doubles wrapped up on Saturday afternoon with four of Southern California's best players. George Mitchell and Anthony Sanchez edged their teammates Yong-Lik Tang and Fermin Victoria, 21-12, 17-21, 11-10.
Bryan Trejo defeated Anthony Sanchez in the Boys 15-Under championship final, 21-19, 21-13.
Xavier Flores looked impressive defeating Ayden Brule, 21-17, 21-4 for the Boys 13-Under crown. Flores is playing in the 13-Under Big Ball Singles and Doubles final on Sunday.
In the tournament's youngest division, Ethan Noriega out of Whittier, CA took down Marco Barrera in two games, 21-4, 21-5
See Saturday's draws and results HERE.
VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The first title of the 2019 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships was decided on Friday afternoon. JJ Arellano and Freddy Reyes, Jr. met in the Boy's 13-Under A final as the sun began to set over the Pacific Ocean. Arellano started strong with a 21-16 win, but Reyes quickly turned the match's momentum, scoring in bunches with a three-wall z-serve. Down 20-15 and looking at a possible tiebreaker, Arellano chipped away at the lead, eventually scoring match point with a deep shot to the left corner.
In Boy's 19-Under action, Jonathan Gutierrez scored the first big upset, upending defending champion Jesus Mendez in the semifinals, 21-8, 21-13. Gutierrez made a point to keep his shots along with wall, driving his opponent back and off the court when making any returns.
Mendez acknowledged, "Playing small ball, [Gutierrez] had way more experience than me."
Gutierrez meets doubles partner Luis Mendez in tomorrow's 19-Under final. Mendez stopped David Sanchez in two games, 21-17, 21-8.
Once again, the Southern California Handball Association made sure every junior player had an abundance of hospitality on the second day. See Friday's draws and results HERE.
VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The 2019 USHA National Junior 3-Wall Championships kicked off on Thursday with small ball singles and doubles action. While 11-10 tiebreakers are usually reserved for later rounds, the 11-Under division produced the tournament's first. Ethan Noriega (Whittier, CA) and Andres Estrella (Los Angeles), the division's No. 4 and No. 5 seeds battled for three games before Noriega scored the final point, causing the stands of supporters to erupt with applause (final score: 21-20, 9-21, 11-10).
All other top seeds advanced to survive another day of handball at the beach in their respective divisions.
The Southern California Handball Association made sure every junior player had an abundance of new handball gear for this year's juniors. Players were given a hat and three shirts as part of their tournament swag bag.
Junior handballers get to play three-wall just a few steps off the World Famous Venice Beach Boardwalk next to Muscle Beach. The unique drop-down format gives players the best experience (a guaranteed three-match minimum).
See Thursday's draws and results HERE.