Toledo 2015 by Peter Peart

So much has been written about the 3-Wall National Championships held annually in Toledo, OH and yet there is always more to see and say about this unique event. Something about the blazing sun, concrete courts, surrounding bleachers, benches and swaths of grass that creates this idyllic setting for families,  old friends, acquaintances and rivals to congregate on that unofficial last weekend of summer that spans Labor Day. Throw in a beer truck, endless grilled meats and you have the makings of what some would call, paradise. Oh yes, let’s not forget our beloved game that has been called “perfect.” And to have seen the action that unfolded over 5 days for any of this the 65th championship is to know the true sense of that perfection.

The experiences related here are all personal, but I am sure anyone who has ever been or was here in the most recent incarnation of this annual handball event, will nod or smile to a moment of recognition.  To chronicle the 5 days of handball bliss in its entirety would be almost impossible because it means that while enjoying a single match or game, there may have been six or seven more in progress at the same time, and unseen. And having written about these championships over the past 6 years, I have always tried to capture and detail the action in just about every bracket of the draw. This incarnation of the Toledo story may somehow unfold differently but in no way detract from the accomplishments of any or all participants.

The 3-wall game, in my opinion, is the most complex and unforgiving of all the handball disciplines. And anyone who has played all three disciplines will probably agree. The dynamics of the game are forced by the somewhat odd configuration of concrete wall space (no back wall and varying distances to cover in the back depending on the venue), a partial combination of concrete and chain link fence ceiling and the natural inconsistency of said poured concrete as worn over time. These elements combined with a lively rubber ball prone to influences induced by the player who is making contact and by these quirky concrete contours, leads to a giddy and sometimes frustrating bundle of joy and pain. The joy may be found in winning a single rally or winning the game and match and ultimately a championship. Pain of course can be found in the emotions of a loss or the physical scarring that results when flesh and concrete fraternize in unkind ways. But like an occasional erratic bounce of thesmall blue ball, these are the rhythms and pulses of our game.

The players from the Mid-Atlantic region who play mainly at the courts at Centennial Park in Columbia, MD,  and more recently over the summer, have been extremely fortunate to have an added venue opened in the Stratton Woods Park Complex in Reston, VA.  And although more than an hour’s drive apart, the two complexes combined provides for ten total courts in the region. We are fortunate to have these choices and hopefully these added courts will lend to an increased opportunity for more players to hone their skills and join the list of strong competitors and champions who hail from the region.

Collectively, our usually strong contingent of players and supporters are collectively called Marylanders when we play in Toledo. And even though our numbers were reduced somewhat in comparison to previous years (as was the overall tournament attendance), we were still able to produce a fair amount of champions and an overall fine showing of finalists and semifinalist and just about everyone else advancing beyond a first round match. Everyone played well and should be proud of their individual accomplishments even if they fell short of the ultimate goal of capturing the crown.

To begin, congratulations to Dan Zimet and his continued mastery in the 40+ men’s singles small ball division. This is Dan’s 6 consecutive championship in the division as he dominated over Bear Meiring (CO) in a repeat of the 2014 finals.  Dan is a stellar player whose record at these and other national handball championships continue a steady growth. In the same category as Dan is his brilliant doubles partner Alan Frank. With the rare exception of the 2014 championships, Alan and Dan create a dynamic duo of dominance at whatever level they compete and returned in 2015 to their rule of the roosts as they steam rolled the round robin field in the 45+ men’s doubles small ball division, allowing an average of less than six points per game over three matches. Frank was not done as he and Mark Zamora  (CA) teamed up in the 50+ men’s doubles division to best Marty Clemens (IN) and Jim Wohl (MO), 16 and 3 after they easily handled Marylanders Rick Anderson and Chuck Epstein. Frank is an amazing player as his finely honed instincts and skill find him always in the perfect position to retrieve and return balls opponents may have counted as positives for their cause. His shot selections are accurate and precise and often leave opponents with that look of bewilderment, tinged with frustration. Because Frank mainly plays doubles these days, some may forget he once starred as a singles player and even dominated over the same Marty Clemens  in Toledo 11 years ago for the 40+ men’s singles title.

Marylander Josh Ho turned in one of his finest performances at this year’s championships as he out played the round robin field in 35+ men’s singles division that included former repeat champion Kendell Lewis (NC). Ho showed his trademark quickness and relentless tenacity as he fought back from one game down to best Pat Oliver (MI), 13-21, 21-8, and 11-6. This was Ho’s first match of the tournament and he used it as a spring board to best his next two opponents, including the aforementioned Lewis. Ho also teamed with Maryland first timer Mark Ozgar in the men’s 35+ doubles division but were bested by former denizens of the Open division and eventual champs, Bill Mehilos (IL) and his partner Shane Conneely (IL). Perhaps not surprising, this has been Ho’s style ever since he showed grit and determination in staving off defeat after being down 10-5 in the Men’s B singles division championship match tiebreaker back in 2004. As players, we often establish a positive pattern that can be repeated over the course of our campaigns and careers.

As a first timer to these championships, Ozgar also entered in the Men’s B singles division. This division has no age limit and only requirement is that an entrant must not have won a prior national B title, but should be self-policing regarding his own skill level. This is a division that produces a champion that must next compete either at the next skill level or age appropriate bracket. Mark’s march to the championship and his first 3-wall national title meant he had to overcome the largest bracket in the championships. His first match was easy at 3 and 3. In his second match he went up against the fast rising Ivan Burgos (Canada), who at 14 and only entered in his second 3-wall event, showed potential well beyond his years. Along with his brother Alam at 16, we can undoubtedly expect great things from them in the future. The play of the Burgos brothers will be addressed later in this recounting. Mark continued his progress toward the championship and eventually went up against the aforementioned Alam. Burgos, like his younger brother, has raw talent and tenacity but really was no match for a more seasoned veteran like Ozgar who hones his skills regularly against many of the finest Marylanders as often as opportunity arise. That experience was on display in the championship match as Ozgar ended rallies before they began and showed dominance in ending the incredible run of Alam at 9 and 4.

Like so many brothers who have played handball and have risen in the ranks, it will be fun to watch the Burgos duo. At 14 and 16, they seem hungry and out to prove their mettle. With the proper mentoring and encouragement, these two teens should hold sway in the handball world for years to come. Besides being on opposite sides of the draw in the Men’s B singles and meeting defeat at the hands of the more experienced Ozgar, the brothers also teamed up for the Men’s B doubles division.  This bracket featured many of the same players forming the singles bracket but this time singles players combined forces to create intriguing pairings and match ups . The Burgos brothers encountered such a match up in the quarterfinals as they went up against the team of Ryan Inman (Mi) and Logan Siegel (MI). The intrigue stemmed from Inman and Siegel being ousted from the men’s B singles bracket, each by one of the Burgos brothers. So their match up had huge implications for players and spectators alike. It was a match that was all out war and quite entertaining for all who watched as the slightly chilling Saturday night air punctuated the glow of late night play brought on by the start-of-the-day rain delay. Inman and Siegel had the first game won but let up and the Burgos boys drew even at 20. Both teams had multiple opportunities to cement the victory but failed as nerves seemed to affect effective play. But finally, the Burgos boys prevailed. Buoyed by their first game escape, the Burgos boys raced ahead only to be caught by Inman and Siegel who eventually prevailed at 18. Given some sage advice before the tiebreaker, the Burgos boys seemed to settle down and played as a team that produced winners as the stronger Alam patrolled the deep court while younger and the more diminutive Ivan plied his burgeoning up front skills to lead the brothers to a most entertaining victory, 11-7 in the tiebreaker; as the response from the sizable group of fans indicated by their appreciative applause.

Unfortunately, the Burgos brothers ran into Filipe Compass (KS) and his partner Marcos Espinoza (KS) who proved more developed and tenacious in holding off the brothers’ unrelenting approach to the match and the game of handball. Compass and Espinoza would meet the much improved Nathaniel Frank and his younger and relatively new to the game of handball partner Michael Gaulton (Canada) in the Men’s B finals. Together this team rolled through their half of the bracket with little or no challenge. Perhaps the ease by which Frank and Gaulton reached the final did not prepare them for Compass and Espinoza. The first game saw Frank and Gaulton with a sizable lead of 16-8. Compass and Espinoza did not panic but steadily attacked as perhaps Gaulton’s inexperience began to show and Frank could not carry the load as many a deep ball escaped his lanky frame. With Compass and Espinoza winning the first game 21-17, Frank and Gaulton only showed flashes of life during the second game and eventually fell, 21-9. As Frank’s game continues to thrive, the entrance of Gaulton on the handball scene, like the Burgos brothers are encouraging developments and bright spots for the future of handball.

Continuing to laud the champions hailing from Maryland, Joe Pleszkoch, in a last minute pick up of a partner Bob Braine of California, after his original partner Keith Thode withdrew because of injury, Pleszkoch and Braine would face off against Carl Valentino (MI) and Rick Graham (MI) in the 70+ men’s doubles finals. Pleszkoch has a positive history against Valentino as he defeated him a few years ago for the 65+ men’s singles title. In the first game, Pleszkoch and Braine could not seem to shake a steady Valentino and Graham but did managed to pull away at 16. The second game was a one sided affair as Pleszkoch’s deep court shots were no match for the other team as Pleszkoch and Braine claimed the championship, 21-6.

Marylanders were well represented in many brackets including the Men’s 50B+ draw. With Bruce Cohen as the number one and Pat Lowery the number two seeds respectively, Chuck Epstein, a new comer to the Maryland area and Toledo, rounded out the contingent. Cohen found a relatively easy path to the finals, while Lowery fell in the quarters to Greg Fite (OH) who later was handled by Epstein to set up an all Maryland finals. Reaching the finals of this division for the second year in a row, Cohen had his hands full against Epstein who dominated, 3 and 8. If Epstein returns to Toledo, as fine a player as he is, it should be interesting to see how he fares in the Masters bracket he chooses as his next seat of competition. I cannot speak for Cohen, but I hope his determination and competitive spirit will bring him back to compete at any level he chooses at the next championships. As for Lowery who succumbed also in the men’s 40B+ singles semifinal to Eric Neff (OH) in a heartbreaking tiebreaker, he is almost certain he will not compete again at the same championship in two singles event .

As Marylanders continued their impressive campaign in other divisions, of note, Dan Ho reached the finals in the 65+ men’s singles division by notching wins in both the quarter and semifinal matches. In the semifinals, Ho faced his fiercest competition and stood tall against Jim Lowe (MI), who many considered the more skilled player. But Ho, known for his tenacity and relentless play, managed to hold off Lowe at 19 and then again at 20 to face the always affable Sean Conneely (IL) who knocked off the number one seeded Ed Campbell (CA) in a bruising tiebreaker, 11-6 on his march to the finals. The expected showdown between, according to Conneely,  the “two leprechauns ” (Ho being short in stature and Conneely being the prototypical Irishman) did not materialize as Conneely dominated from the start. He befuddled Ho with his serves and controlled the front court with soft drop kills or well-placed passing shots. The best Ho could do was muster some deep retrieves from the left side but was then rendered vulnerable to Conneely’s reach and deft placement of the ball. In the end, Ho went quietly at 3 and 3.

And in the scheme of things, Conneely was not done with Ho as they would again meet in the 65+ men’s doubles division. Ho and Stan Townsend (AZ) breezed through their first round match only to be curtailed by Conneely and his partner Larry Dohman (IL). In the next round, as the draw would have it, Conneely and Dohman went up against Ed Campbell and Vance McInnis (IL). It was good to see Vance return to the courts (and the winner’s circle) after last year’s absence. Since the ensuing doubles match followed the singles defeat to Conneely, perhaps Campbell sought to make a statement when he and McInnis neutralized Conneely and Dohman at 3 and 1 on their way to face Jim Lowe and Larry Price (MI) whom they bested for the championship, 15 and 7.

The march of Marylanders continued in the 60+ men’s doubles division, as Bob Dyke and Ken Greco (CO), George Fambro and Robert Ozgar (first timer along with aforementioned son Mark Ozgar), and yours truly teamed with Ed Green (MI). This was a tough division stocked with notables of our sport such as Tim Sterrett (IL) paired with Kevin Jarvis (IL) and Glenn Cardin (WA) paired with Gary Eisenbooth (CA), along with Joe Ivey (MI) teaming with Frank Lambrechts (FL) to name a few.

Since play for this division commenced on Saturday, the schedule was skewed by the early morning rain delay. So as the day’s schedule slid further behind, Ed Green and I began or scheduled 7 PM match against Sterrett and Jarvis after 10 PM. Sorry to say, we were no match for Sterrett and Jarvis. Sterret is a smooth and efficient player on the courts and his reputation and past championships at this and other events precede him wherever he goes. And even though Ed and I competed in the early stages of each game, Sterrett’s play seemed to overwhelm us as we were only able to muster 7 and 8 points in our two games. Meanwhile, Dyke and Greco, after winning their first round match would battle Sterrett and Jarvis in one semifinal contest by taking the first game at 18, but losing the second at 20 and the eventual tiebreaker, 11-3. Dyke and Greco are not an easy team to handle, in part because of the devastating serves unleashed on the right by Greco.

On the other half of the 60+ doubles bracket, Fambro and Ozgar lost in their opening round match to a team later dispachted by Ivey and Lambrechts. This set up a potential showdown with Cardin and Eisenbooth, but the showdown never materialized and Ivey and Lambrechts went away relatively quietly at 15 and 7, setting the stage for what would become an exciting finals match. Cardin and Eisenbooth seemed in control in winning the first game although they allowed a small run of points to make it seem close as the score would indicate, 21-16. But perhaps the momentum gained at the end of the first game spilled over into the second as Sterrett and Jarvis took control and cruised to a 21-9 game victory. The tiebreaker was tight with Sterrett and Jarvis prevailing 11-9 to secure the championship.

In the 60+ men’s singles division, Marylanders Bob Dyke, Murzy Jhabvala and first timer and relative newcomer to the 3-wall game Jay Dennis competed. Dennis was pitted against the scrappy Gary Eisenbooth who used his greater 3-wall experience to keep Dennis on the defensive and allowed single digit points in both games. As many of us know, that first time experience at 3-wall nationals can be humbling. Meanwhile, Jhabvala cruised in his first round match up against Wesley Humfreys (FL). Next up, Jhabvala would face off against the formidable number one seeded, John Freidrich (OH) and showed game but not enough and fell, 12 and 7. On the other half of the bracket, Bob Dyke mounted a strong run, dispatching Edwin Stead (FL) and then Bob Bardeau (OH)to meet Freidrich in the finals. Freidrich was nothing less than masterful in his smooth kills and passes and made quick work of Dyke, 6 and 4 in claiming the championship.

Josh Osburn, Adam Zimet and Larry Defauw competed in the men’s A divisions in singles and doubles. Osburn is a talented player who has yet to break through consistently. While playing A singles, Osburn met little resistance in taking his first two opponents including the aforementioned young and talented Michael Gaulton. But while consistently holding his first two opponents to scores of 7 and 2 and 3 and 7, Osburn was next pitted against a sharp shooting Isidro Garcia from California. In this match, Osburn was handed a dose of his own medicine as he lost this semifinal match, 3 and 7 to the eventual champion, who in his 4 matches played for the championship, limited his opponents to an average of 4 points per game, with the 7 scored by Osburn being the most.

Osburn would also team up with Larry Defauw (playing in the Maryland area this summer, but hails from Texas) to play A doubles. Winning their first match with steady and  complementary play, the pair could not overcome the next stronger team of Nick Dietch (WI) and Jim Wohl and bowed out at 15 and 16. Dietch and Wohl would lose a tough match to Omar (TX) and Carlos Lemus (IL) who had earlier battled Adam Zimet and his partner Jaimie Simon (IL). After splitting the first two well played games, Zimet showed smoothness and control. One could never say he was slovenly in his play! Unfortunately the tiebreaker never materialized because of injury to Simon…So the Lemus boys escaped and faced off against the aforementioned Isidro Garcia and his partner Carlos Flores (CA). After a strong first game, with Isidro and Flores edging the Lemus boys at 20, the second game fireworks never materialized as Isidro and Flores waltzed to the championship, 20-9.

And now to recount my own on court exploits at these championships, I will give some of the highlights of my play in the 60+ B singles division. My first match was close as my opponent Bob Anderson from Illinois kept the first game even until I pulled away to take it, 21-11. In the second game, Anderson rebounded in a huge way and raced out ahead 17-6. Between a time out and break for ball retrieval, I found my serve and the will to fight back and ran off 11 straight points to draw even. I wanted that 12th consecutive point but it did not come in that run. We battled with side outs with some incredible gets on both sides. With all the action going on the other courts, there was a large contingency of fans to support both of us. But as always, where would we be without the support and the love (Nan) and for that I am thankful. We exchanged points to 20 with each having an opportunity to score, but Anderson made the best of his chance. The tiebreaker was as tight as a board as each player inched closer to the elusive 11th point. Tied at 10, I served and we volleyed only to have Anderson handcuffed along the right wall. A great sigh of relieve and also a great win for my sense of playing. I was proud to fight back in the second game and took many a lesson from that scoring run and the spirit of not giving up.

My next opponent would be Terry Mcguire , also from Illinois. Terry has demonstrated tough play in all the previous years I have seen him compete at these championships in the 50+ Bs, but he was never able to win it all. I wanted ever so much to stop Terry and reach the finals. What happened in the match left me befuddled as I seem to be stuck in second gear knowing full well I am capable of overdrive. The first game was a blur and I was dismissed at 11. The second game saw Terry way out in front, but again I decide to mount a late charge when he was at 17. As hard as I played, I could not sustain the comeback beyond 14 points and bowed out quietly. I have fully analyzed the lost and found solace in my understanding. Terry would next face Ed Green, my doubles partner whose singles play vaulted him to the number seeded position in the bracket after losing in last year’s 60+ Bs finals. Ed and I talked after my loss to Terry, and even though sometimes you want to say you lost to the eventual champion, I wanted Ed to triumph. His match with Terry was tough, taking the first close game at 16 but seemingly faded in the second as Terry won easily at 11. This brought on the tiebreaker, and by Ed’s own account, Terry jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Ed regained serve and found that special gear called determination and slammed the door on Terry, winning the tiebreaker, 11-6 and thus the championship. Ed’s win made me happy for him and helped to salve my earlier lost to Terry.

Such is handball. Beyond the play itself, there has been so much written and said about what it takes to compete and ultimately what it takes to win one game, a match and ultimately a championship. In the years since I began competing at the 3-wall nationals, I have had victories, defeats, emotional loses and some let downs to name a few categories of compartmentalization that we all put ourselves through as competitors. I find these to be coping mechanisms more than excuses and rationalizations. We all analyze why we lost more than why we won because the win generally speaks for itself.

The biggest thing about competing is knowing yourself and knowing that winning and losing does not define who you are. Winning and losing are things we experience while being who we are is a life. In looking at the history of sports and competition, especially individual competitors, the skilled ones generally prevail. And yet there are many skilled players who have never won or who do not win consistently. Of course, there is also the element of luck that sometimes factors in. But as participating in these championships have taught me over the past 6 years: to win you must be physically whole; your mind set must be focused; your emotions must be directed to execution of your skills and not squandered by distractions happening within your competition; you must be able to hold on when there is nothing left in you except the will to hold on; and as Vince Lombardi once said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” But sometimes it takes the outside observation and verbalization of a situation for it to become clear and make sense…and as a friend and  fellow player reminded me, and I paraphrase, ‘one must realize that they are a better player than they think they are!’

One cannot win at this level unless you are completely whole, both physically and mentally…The physical part really affects the mentality as one struggles on the court to fight the mind that is telling you that you know that part of your body that you need is not going to work when you need it to work in a particular way. You can get by with it in just ordinary circumstances, but execution that requires precision and clarity is severely handicapped at the highest level. No regrets or excuses, just stating the fact that even though you try to ‘will’ yourself and overcome that instance of hesitation that comes with some lack of physical wholeness, the outcome remains in doubt.

Marylander’s representation was further bolstered by the Anderson family, Grandfather Lew Buckingham, Dad Rick and his sons Eric and Lee. To begin, Lew was recognized and honored during these championships with the presentation of the Grand Master sweater representing the winning of 10 national titles. This is a wonderful achievement for Lew as he continues to compete, and teamed at these championships with Ben Marguglio (TX), placed second to the team of Mike Driscoll (TX) and Norm Young (MI) in the 75+ men’s doubles division.

Meanwhile, son-in-law Rick Anderson, in addition to teaming with Chuck Epstein in the 50+ doubles bracket also competed in the 55+ doubles with former Marylander Bill Tebbenhoff (FL). In this bracket, Anderson and Tebbenhoff made a respectable showing (12 and 9) against the Canadians Peter Service and Lindsey Hall, who would later out lasted Scott Szatkowski (IL) and Jimmy Devito (IL) for the championship.

Lee Anderson made a promising and consistent debut in the Open singles division as he carved out nine points in each game against reigning collegiate singles champ Daniel Cordoba (Mexico), who later fell to Nikolai Nahorniak (IL). The Open division is generally played on another level as shot making and serves are at the highest form in our sport. Spectators often marvel at how spectacular and seemingly at ease the Open players are when they execute and explode on the court. Nahorniak would later face Tyree Bastidas (NY) in one semifinal match that proved to be exciting in that the first two games were about evenly split with Bastidas winning first at 9 and Nihorniak bouncing back at 6. The tiebreaker made for intense drama as both players went all out in a tight game to eleven. And when the dust settled, Bastidas emerged victorious 11-9 and earning the right to face defending champ Sean Lenning (AZ) who cruised through his half of the bracket with his usual ballet of serves, corner kills and blistering roll outs.  The Bastidas/Lenning finals matchup is what everyone has come to expect at these championships over the past few years. In speaking with Bastidas before any of his play begun, he admitted he was “weary” as if to say, he had been playing too much handball for so long a stretch. Armed with this information, as I watched his play throughout, the weariness peeked through on numerous occasions and perhaps answered some of the questions that may have surrounded his telltale lackluster play. It is not for me to say how Bastidas can overcome the funk (although we did discuss this at length), but I am sure, there are numerous avenues available for a talented player as this to revitalize his game so that he can last and continue to contribute to the sport.

The Bastidas/Lenning singles final was as much a one-sided affair as any of their previous matches contested in these finals. Lenning toyed with the disenchanted Bastidas in the first game and closed him out at 10. In the second game, Lenning took delight in handing Bastidas the “doughnut.”  We can only hope any future match up with these two greats of the game will produce a more worthy effort from Bastidas.

Continuing with the Open division, but on to the doubles bracket, we find Marylander Lee Anderson joined by his brother Eric to do battle in the opening or play-in round against Canadians, Ryan Bowler and Kevin Kopchuk. The Anderson brothers are known for giving their all, with Eric showing total disregard for his lanky frame as it inevitably will show scrapes, gashes and gouges, the so called road rash from his relentless all out play. This match was evident as the shirtless brothers skidded across the concrete as if it were ice. This all-out effort produced an entertaining match against the Canadians as the Andersons took the first game at 15 only to have the tables turned in the second by the same 15 points. In the tiebreaker, the Andersons assumed control and rolled, 11-2. Next up for the Andersons were the number one seeded Tyree Bastidas and Nikolai Nahorniak. Despite the inevitable outcome, the Andersons had fun as did Bastidas and Nahorniak. There was much smiles and camaraderie as the longstanding pro players dispatched the Andersons, 9 and 12. As a matter of course, during parts of the games, it seems as if it was only Nahorniak against the Andersons as he put away almost every shot up front, and then when in the service box, gave a clinic with his low screeching serves that either cracked out on the right just beyond the short line or danced out the door. And to his game management maturity, Lee remained under control throughout these championships, and for that and his play, I give him kudos.

Bastidas/Nahorniak did run into some fierce competition against another strong Illinois brother duo of Mike and David Munson who are no strangers to this level of competition. The Munsons lost the first game at 16 and took the second at 10, but could not find enough for the tiebreaker and were edged 11-8. Bastidas and Nahorniak reaching the final would now face a reunited team of Sean Lenning and Marcos Chavez (CA).

In 2003 and 2004, the older Chavez teamed with Lenning at these championships and were formidable if not dominant in winning each time, although the win over the pairing of the great David Chapman and legend Dave Dohman was by default. At the time and even years later, Chavez thought that it would have been a great match to have been played. Fast forward to these championships and both men, more mature in their years and games, have reunited to have the chance to face mature players they once faced 11 and 12 years earlier and younger rising stars of the game. In meeting and speaking with the affable Chavez, his enthusiasm for the game shows the giddiness of a kid in a candy store. He speaks in awe of the great Vince Munoz, their relationship on and off the court and what he learned from the master. His one regret is that he and Munoz never played as partners at these doubles championships despite playing as partners elsewhere. Chavez says now with a smile, he did not believe he “was good enough” to partner with Munoz here in Toledo!

Anyone watching Lenning and Chavez on the court can see why they make such a great team as they both display incredible court sense and the ability to end rallies before they begin. So on their march to the finals, they kept all but one of their opponent’s games (11) in the single digits and would continue that trend in neutralizing Bastidas and Nahorniak at 6 and 7 to seal their third 3-wall crown as a team.

The men’s Open singles finals is traditionally the last officially  contested match of these championships. But Toledo holds many memories beyond handball play. Let us not forget the organizers and support personnel who help make this  a special event. I would  be remiss if I did not note in remembrance, the passing earlier this year of Katherine Anderson who provided massage therapy to so many over the years, as she, her husband Charles and their splendid motor home have become fixtures at this event.

So, 3-wall season is over for me even though the weather remains amenable to outdoor play. Until next spring, I will seek and find the missing pieces to repair whatever damage I may have suffered in this campaign. To the winners, finalist, dropdown winners (George Fambro and Nathaniel Frank), semifinalist and all those who competed…hats off to you my friends and see you next time.

Follow the link below to see the brackets and complete results from:

Handball Tournament 9/3/2015 – 9/7/2015
65th USHA National Three-Wall Championships
Lucas County Rec Center – Maumee, OH USA