"Wild Man" Ricky Montalvo in action.

The CityWide that almost wasn’t.

With fans and players with very high expectations; the 2004 Big Blue City-Wide Handball Championships had to face many obstacles. The City-Wide is no longer the tournament that we all knew. You know the one that was Free and was supposed to expose new players from across the city to the competitiveness of the sport of one-wall Handball. The City-Wide was once the biggest and most exciting tournament of the year, which was held in 8 different locations.  The tournament had over 500 entrees just two years ago; and this year only 130 players had participated in the event. What made this event unique in the past was because many unknown players would enter to see how they would fare against the players from different areas and parks with many surprises. What went wrong? Was it the higher entry fees? Was it the Magic Man’s calling on the discussion boards to boycott this event, or was it the players just fed up with all the negative things with some of the Tournaments the last couple of years?

Many felt that this years City-Wide would be a success due to Paul Williams, President of the Inner City Handball Association hosting the event along with the NY Handball Alliance which consists of several associations and organizations. From the beginning this tournament had a bad buzz…rumors were out about the higher entry fee’s. Also some players were not happy about last years City-Wide, in which a $5 entry fee was incorporated. There were also some complaints about how the tournament was coordinated. C’mon now this is not the US Tennis Open, where you have a full staff working year round on a tournament. It is not easy to put on an event across New York City and not have some problems.

The coordinators should have changed the name of this tournament, and re-organized it. In the past the NYC Parks Dept. would help sponsor this event. Since they are not involved any more they should not try to fool people into thinking they are. People seem to connect this tournament to a New York City sponsored event, and believe it receives some type of funding from New York City. This year the tournament did not receive any funding and basically was your usual pay to play event. Why no sponsors? Did anyone make a real effort? Then coordinators announce that the tournament is running at a loss, and whose fault is this? You cannot blame the players if they do not want to play. The word on the street was…I will come watch but will not play…it’s just not worth it. This just showed how frustrated players and fans are about the present state of the sport of Handball. Because of the poor turnout, only 4 locations were used to host the event. Then the Finals were moved from Central Park, Manhattan to London Planetree, Queens due to the Puerto Rican Day Parade being scheduled the same day. The prize money was about average, but many feel that the Open players should be paid more to show up and perform. Perhaps keeping the old format of giving trophies to the “B” and “C” events might have increased the open’s prize money.

Once the Finals had started all the negative things were forgotten, and the players did what they do best…Play Handball. The players and the sport of Handball is what make’s this game conquer all odds.

Article was compiled from feedback, from various emails and conversations between HandballCity.com and the players and fans of NYC.

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“PeeWee falls short” “Rookie” repeats.

In the Finals of the Open Men’s singles it was John “Rookie” Wright defeating Pee Wee Castro 21-19. Pee Wee made a valiant effort but came up short. Pee Wee who has become one of the most popular players had the fans on his side today. Pee Wee and Rookie would take turns killing the ball. Rookie then took control and many felt he would win easy; and then Pee Wee fell into a zone and made a huge run. Pee Wee was diving to pick up the ball as the fans watched in awe; the score was now 19-18 Rookie. Rookie then hit a rally ending roll shot to end the volley; it was now his turn to serve and he won the game. To reach the finals Pee Wee defeated  Roland Brown 21-3 in the Bronx, came back from a huge deficit to beat Ray Lopez 21-19, and then had to face the “ice man” Robert Sostre. Pee Wee won 21-15. Rookie would defeat Willie Polanco 21-16 and 2003 King of the Courts Champion George Figueroa 21-5 to make it to the Finals.


Lian Chin and Alethia Mendez pose for photos after "B" singles Final.

“Maggie Slams”

The big news was in the Women’s Open. Maggie Crespo Slams. In the singles open Maggie Crespo defeated Veronica Figueroa in a tough battle 21-20. Then in the open doubles Maggie Crespo/Lori Acevedo defeated Brenda Pares/Bernice Torres. Maggie celebrated by running around cheering with joy with the Puerto Rican flag wrapped around her showing her Puerto Rican pride.


Maggie Crespo hitting the winning shot.

Results - 2004 Big Blue Citywide Championships - June 13th, 2004, London Planetree Park, Queens, NY

Open Finals match between Paulie Yagual/Jamie Rivera vs. Robert Sostre/Pee Wee Castro

          “Kids step up in the Open Doubles”

Congratulations to Jamie Rivera and Paulie Yagual in defeating the superstars of Handball to capture the Open Doubles Championship. In the finals it was Rivera/Yagual defeating Robert Sostre/Pee Wee Castro 21-10. They started off strong and were able to play very aggressive throughout the match, this forced Castro/Sostre to play from behind. To get to the finals Rivera/Yagual defeated Joe Thompson/George Figueroa and Ray Lopez/Willie Polanco.


The 2004 Big Blue Citywide results:

Open Men’s Singles: John “Rookie” Wright d. PeeWee Castro

Open Men’s Doubles: Jamie Rivera/Paulie Yagual d. Robert Sostre/PeeWee Castro

“B” Men’s Singles: “Wildman” Ricky Montalvo d. Carlos Espinal

“B” Men’s Doubles: Joe Thompson/Jamel Gordon d. Darwin Lee/Marc Sanablia

“C” Men’s Singles: Gus Hernandez d. Frank Luna

Open Women’s Singles: Maggie Crespo d. Veronica Figueroa

Open Women’s Doubles: Maggie Crespo/Lori Acevedo d. Brenda Pares/Bernice Torres

“B” Women’s Singles: Alethia Mendez d. Lian Chin

“B” Women’s Doubles: Audrena Best/Tamika Pearson d. ?

“C” Women’s Singles: Alethia Mendez d. Tammy Torres

Total prize money was reduced to approximately $4,300

 Brenda Pares serving to Veronica Figueroa in the semi finals.


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