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2004 YMCA 1-Wall
by Ben Brighton
Cool temperatures and cloudy skies kept the crowd small, but enthusiasm high for
Saturday's YMCA 1-Wall Singles. The men's division featured a possible career
changing victory for Cesar Sala and the continuation of
Anna Calderon's handball history in the women's. Cesar reached the finals with a
victory over Mike Ross in the first round. His next opponent was multi-champion
Joe Durso. Joe, in the twilight of a great career, scored a respectable 15
A featured quarterfinal match pitted the 2002 USHA champion PeeWee Castro
against former USHA champ ion Robert Sostre. Castro lead 19-11 and was
seemingly still in command at 22-19 when a controversial avoidable hinder was
called and shifted the momentum in Robert's favor. Sostre wound up
winning the match 25-22.
Sala was on a mission against Sostre; the end result was a one-sided 25-7
In the bottom half, Tony Roberts was staring at a tough draw. A week before the
tournament Roberts was undecided about playing citing his lack of conditioning.
But practice matches, during the week, with Al Apuzzi and Robert Sostre
convinced the current National singles champion that he wouldn't embarrass
His first opponent was Milton Jones. Tony needed to work for a 25-17 win. Next
up was Jesus Ayala, who beat Al Apuzzi 25-13. The buzz started before the match
about Jesus' devastating serve. Well, he certainly lived
up to the advance billing pushing Tony before falling 25-21. Waiting in the
wings was Satish Jagnandan who left Joe Kaplan and big blue ace George Figueroa
on 9 and 8 respectively.
In the back of Roberts' mind must have been the memory of the shutout he
suffered at the hands of Satish at Bailey Park. Mixing up his serves, and
killing everything he reached, Tony prevailed 25-20.
We were now set for a rematch of the 2003 National singles final. First to reach
doubles figures Cesar lead 11-7. But Tony went on an incredible run as Cesar
seemed to have a meltdown and trailed by as many as 8 points
at 19-11. It was here were Sala dug in his heels and refused to accept defeat.
Like a fighter trailing on all scorecards knowing he needs a knockout. Cesar
went for it. he attacked but with high percentage shots not recklessness. He
exhibited all the skills; serve, speed, power,
off-hand that handball fans marvel but which has produced, until Saturday, a
spotty winning record. Roberts was showing possible signs of weariness, but
unlike baseball you can't signal in Mariano Rivera to finish the game. Cesar
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Sala is recognized as one of the true gentlemen in the sport. But
that is sort of like being named Miss Congeniality in the Miss
America pageant. His performance Saturday showed he might be ready
to be mentioned a the best player in the game.
What do Anna Calderon, Ted Williams and Mohammed Ali have in common?
Each had long layoffs during the prime of their careers and came
perform at championship levels. Anna's story is remarkable. As I've
written before, a 15 year layoff, a dramatic change in her
adolescent physique. She's worker very hard and the results have
been amazing. Calderon left promising newcomer Lori Acevedo on 4.
Lori has a lot of
potential. I hope she is not dejected and uses this loss as a
learning experience. Brenda Pares advanced by beating former
champion Dori Ten
25-14 but was stopped, in the semis, by Anna 25-14. three time
National singles champion Tracy Davis advanced with wins over
Alethia Mendez 25-14
and Veronica Figueroa 25-11.
A see-saw affair had Tracy serving at 24-22. An apparent tournament
winning ace was appealed and ruled to be a short instead. Calderon
advantage of the opportunity and ran 3 points to capture the title
25-24. A stunned Davis was left shaking her head while a jubilant
Anna possesses the best serve among the women. You need a calculator
to keep track of her aces. Those foolish enough to return it are met
with a swift response. The victory has to be a confidence builder in
for this summer's National title.
Congratulations to Cesar and Anna. Two sports people and handball
Sala sporting Nike gear.
serving an ace...
Results - USHA Pro-Stop Singles - Saturday May
1st, 2004, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY
Cesar Sala and Tony Roberts battle it out in the Finals
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USHA Pro Handball Rankings
MATCHES WERE ONE 25 POINT GAME
WOMEN'S SINGLES (1ST PLACE $125, 2ND PLACE $75, SEMIFINALISTS $25)
ROUND OF 16 - ALETHIA MENDEZ D. BARABARA JACKSON 14
QUARTERFINALS - TRACY DAVIS D. ALETHIA MENDEZ 15, VERONICA FIGUEROA D. THERESA
MCCOURT 11, BRENDA PARES D. DORI TEN 14, ANNA CALDERON D. LORI ACEVEDO 4
SEMIFINALS - DAVIS D.FIGUEROA 8, CALDERON D. PARES 14
FINALS CALDERON D. DAVIS 24
MEN'S SINGLES (1ST PLACE $200, 2ND PLACE $100, SEMIFINALS $50, QUERTFINALS $25)
ROUND OF 32 - MIKE ROSS D. STAN ZAVOYSKIY 22, PETE PELLIGRINI D. PHONG NGUYEN 6,
MILTON JONES D. JOHN INGLESIAS 4
ROUND OF 16 - CESAR SALA D. MIKE ROSS 22, JOE DURSO D. ANDY ROUSSEAU 11, PEEWEE
CASTRO D. PETE PELLIGRINI 8, ROBERT SOSTRE D. PAUL ANGEL 13, JOE KAPLAN D.
VICTOR LOPIERRE 19, SATISH JAGNANDAN D. GEORGE FIGUEROA 8,
JESUS AYALA D. ALBERT APUZZI 13, TONY ROBERTS D. MILTON JONES 17
QUARTERFINALS - SALA D. DURSO 15, SOSTRE D. CASTRO 22, JAGNANDAN D. KAPLAN 9,
ROBERTS D. AYALA 21
SEMIFINALS - SALA D. SOSTRE 7, ROBERTS D. JAGNANDAN 20
FINALS - SALA D. ROBERTS 22
Thanks to site director Artie Fuchs.
This tournament ran at a loss of $250-300.
The Coney Island courts packed with